‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall…’

(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)


My first understanding of grace came by way of my worst understanding of me.

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:23-24) 

I wonder if James wrote this for people like me who would spend a lot of time in  church — hearing the word constantly and doing nothing about it. So when we look at ourselves in the mirror (the mirror of the law) and are horrified at what we see, of course we immediately forget it because it’s just too painful and too damning. I have devised all kinds of ways to forget what I see in that mirror. I was a Christian for many years before I really allowed myself to stare long and hard into that mirror and for the first time realize God’s grace was for me. I am the sinner I have been talking about most of my life! I am the pompous loser, and everyone but me could see it. I am the worst one.

Suddenly grace made sense. Yes, the law condemns us but grace sets us free. Grace wasn’t just a concept or a principle to understand and to teach; it was a lifeline. It was my only hope. The mirror tells the truth, but grace overcomes it.

This is by no means, however, a one-time experience where we learn about law, sin and grace once and for all. Some of our earliest experiences at this revelation may stick out in our memories, but the basic process of looking in the mirror of God’s word and seeing something humiliating in our character requiring a fresh touch of God’s grace — that happens every day and many times a day.

Here is what I learned just yesterday when I was called out by a close friend in the middle of a Bible study. Now that’s one time I couldn’t avoid what was in the mirror because there were witnesses. It put me on my knees in my spirit, and left me looking up to my brothers and deeply aware of and thankful for, God’s grace. 

You know, I think we should all get used to that posture — on our knees looking up. If the Lord loves me, scoundrel that I am, He must really love you. Here I am with this log in my eye and you — you only have a speck in yours. No problem.

Do you see why James wants us exposed to the mirror of the word? The mirror, if we look into it and remember, shows us who we really are which humbles us and sets us up for the grace of God, which is where we should be all the time.

Woe to the one who avoids the mirror.

My first understanding of grace came by way of my worst understanding of me.

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1 Response to ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall…’

  1. Toni Petrella says:

    I needed to read this and always remember God loves us just as we are no matter what and that also is the image we see in the mirror which is very humbling even though we may have a hard time seeing that. Thank the Lord always for his grace seeing us as we really are inside and out.

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