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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mirrors, Lookingglasses, and More

I love mirrors! I use them for decorating in the place of pictures or paintings. They bring light and reflection inside. They amplify rooms. The “picture” they provide moves with the inhabitants. Mirrors offer an added dimension.

The Bible mentions mirrors (called lookingglasses and glasses in the KJV) several times. These references seem to indicate hand mirrors and not something big, hung on a wall. (I guess you couldn’t hang them on a tent wall!) Sometimes, the word for mirror is a metaphor, and other times, it’s the literal object.

The first reference to mirrors is in Exodus 38:8. The ladies worshiping at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation gave their mirrors to be used for the laver (washing basin) for the Tabernacle. In those days, hand mirrors were made of very polished brass.  The women’s mirrors were melted down and made into something new—something to be used in the purification ritual for Aaron and his sons. You might say they gave up their vanity for purity.

In Isaiah 3, God compares the nation of Israel with some pretty gaudy women. He didn’t approve of these women (an allegory about Israel) for their attitudes and their pride. This story is symbolic of Israel’s attitude towards God. In this parable, God takes away the women’s accessories and ornaments, even their mirrors. (Verse 23) In this case, it wasn’t a willing act from the women; it was forced upon them.

Let’s go to the New Testament. You may have thought of this passage already. I love it, especially since it speaks so clearly to women. I’m going to change the male pronouns to female, so that you can easily apply this passage to yourself. The changes are marked by parentheses:

For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, (she) is like unto a (woman) beholding (her) natural face in a glass: For (she) beholdeth (herself), and goeth (her) way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of (woman she) was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, (she) being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this (woman) shall be blessed in (her) deed (James 1:23-25).

Can you imagine waking up in the morning and looking at your face and hair in the mirror, and then you do absolutely nothing about yourself? You just walk away and start your day? Not many of us would do that! The most natural thing is to want to “fix” ourselves. We do whatever it takes to better our appearance. We look in the mirror in order to know exactly what needs to be done and for guidance in cleansing our faces, applying makeup, and combing our hair.*

In James 1, the Bible is the mirror. We look into God’s Holy Word to see how we actually are and to see what we need to fix. Then, we don’t just walk away. We use His Word, the mirror, to guide us in doing what needs done!*

Just as mirrors give an added dimension to the home, so the mirror of the Word of God gives depth to our spiritual lives. Without its true foundation, we would be wandering and floundering spiritually. But, when we look into the Word (the mirror) and we obey what we find there (James calls it “doing.”), we have the free conscience of knowing we’re doing right. We can go through our day in confidence. Just as we do our hair and makeup in the morning and walk out the door with confidence, we “do” our spiritual selves with the help of the Bible.

May we all make effective use of our spiritual mirror!

*Copyrighted paragraphs from my new book, His Ways, Your Walk: Bible Applications for Women. 


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