The man in the mirror
The Bible describes the word of God as mirror in which a man can see himself (1Cor 13:8-12, Jam 1:22-25). This is most often viewed as a way of saying that we need to be guided by the Bible in our evaluations of ourselves because our hearts are vulnerable to self-deception (Jer 17:9-10). This is very true, but there is another aspect of the Bible being a mirror that we would do well to recognize. A mirror only reflects an image of who is looking at it. It does not make any evaluations of or adjustments to the person using it. It is up to the person using the mirror to do those things. The mirror just shows them who they are. While this is in harmony with the above understanding of the Bible as a mirror, it also means something else.
There is word that has been become popular to describe people’s beliefs and they way those beliefs inform how they view things, and how they act. It is the word worldview. People like to think of themselves as unbiased, but that is not true. Everyone has a worldview that biases how they see things. For example, the clash between creationists who believe the Bible’s account of origins in Genesis 1-2 and evolutionists who do not is not a problem with scientific evidence. Both sides have the same evidence. The clash is one of worldviews. Creationists are honest about theirs. They admit that they interpret the evidence according to their belief in the Bible as the word of God. This does not mean that their interpretation is automatically wrong, but that is the worldview of most evolutionists. They say that if you believe the Bible is the word of God you are wrong. It does not matter how many scientific problems are pointed out to them about their belief in evolution, they will come up with defense mechanisms to avoid dealing with them rather than re-evaluating their ideas. For example, when it was learned that comets cannot be nearly as old as evolutionists claimed, a man named Oort proposed the idea of a cloud where comets and manufactured. This cloud does not exist, but they use it as a defense mechanism against challenges to their worldview.
People do the same thing with the Bible as a whole. Some people approach the Bible as the word of God, and some do not. This directly impacts everything they believe, say, and do. You can present a myriad of reasons to believe the Bible, but people who do not believe will always make excuses why they do not. The problem is not with the validity of the Bible. It is with the worldview they have chosen to embrace. People treat life in general how they treat the Bible. Jesus got to the crux of the matter in John 3:19-21, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” The problem is not with the light. It is with man’s rejection of it, thus leaving him with only the alternative of darkness. God Himself will not override their ability to make this choice, despite the eternal consequences. The way people respond to the Bible is no reflection on God or the validity of the scriptures. It is only a reflection of themselves. When people are confronted with the truth of the word of God, they see a reflection of themselves, not God. Some people try to project that image onto God instead of talking responsibility for their own spiritual condition. “With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright. With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury (2Sam 22:26-27, Ps 18:25-26). It is not God that is unmerciful and froward. It is man. The words translated forward and unsavoury are two different words in the original language. Froward means perverse or crooked, and unsavoury means to wrestle. Those who are perverse before God see Him as a wrestling opponent. Some people pervert, twist, and wrestle with the scriptures instead of dismissing them altogether (Gal 1:6-9, 2Pet 3:16). They develop tortured interpretations instead of repenting. They actually oppose themselves and fight against their own salvation, which God is graciously trying to give them (Acts 18:6, 2Tim 2:25).
Romans 2 also shows this dynamic. Verses 1-11 speak about hypocritical judging of others. This is seeing their reflection in the mirror of others, and not only in the word of God. They see others having the same faults they do, and instead of repenting they judge those whom they see their own reflection in. Jesus also spoke of this in Matthew 7:1-5. “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment (Jn 7:1-5).” Paul compared the righteous, impartial judgment of God to the hypocritical, partial judgment of man that fails to acknowledge his own sins and repent. “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance (Rom 2:4)?” Verses 12-29 speak about the Jew who presumes an exemption to this as he compares himself to his perception of the status of the Gentile. This distinction does not apply in the judgment of God, especially in the New Testament. We are all judged equally by God. He is the only one completely free of unjust bias (Eze 18, Eze 33). His worldview is not clouded at all. He sees us exactly as we are. He sees the good and the bad. He even goes beyond justice and has mercy on us. He is so merciful He came in the flesh and died to provide our justification. He is the only true justifier (Is 53:11, Rom 3:26). When we try to justify ourselves, we fall woefully short (Job 9:20, Lk 16:15).
Sometimes people exert more effort to avoid responsibility than it takes to do just face it. We do the same thing to God. When the word of God causes us to see ourselves, we sometimes exert so much effort trying to avoid facing it when the merciful, loving God is only seeking to bring us to repentance and the acknowledging of the truth (Mt 9:13, 2Cor 7:10, 2Tim 2:25, 2Pet 3:9). He is not cruel or harsh. He is not unforgiving, but when we have been we tend to perceive Him that way. Sometimes the one we need to forgive most is ourselves. We can do that when we stop trying to fight against ourselves and just surrender to God. He will free us of projecting our failures onto Him or others. His grace will help us to begin to see things the way they really are.