“Now we see as if in a mirror dimly… but then we will see face to face.”[a]
The filter through which we see God is the physical, spiritual, emotional and conscious person we see staring back at us in the mirror. Our image of who God is comes filtered through our own selves.
Think about that for a moment….
If our sense of who we are is distorted, our view of God is distorted. If we don’t see ourselves accurately, we can’t see God accurately. Having an accurate view of God requires us to have an accurate view of who we are.
Paul admonishes us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. (Romans 12:3) Pride distorts our view of God, and we fail to see Him as He is, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. If we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, we diminish and distort God.
We also fail to see God as He is if we think too little of ourselves. God loves us, and therefore we are precious to God. God made us in His own image and gave us dominion over the physical world and all that is in it. He gave us gifts to share with the body of Christ and, in doing so, to honor God.
Paul urges us, “having gifts that differ according to the grace given us” to use those gifts “in proportion to our faith”[b]. Whether it be in service, or teaching, or leading, or generosity or in showing mercy, we should not fail (in false humility) to use those gifts to God’s glory. If we fail to see our own worth in God’s eyes, we will never live up to God’s purpose for us.
Having an accurate understanding of who we are, and who God is, requires more than thinking; it requires doing. We are to receive the word of God implanted in our hearts with meekness[c], “being doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like the man who looks intently at his natural face in the mirror…. And goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”[d]
In doing God’s word, we allow the implanted word to grow, and in that growth our understanding of God increases. The image of God that we see through ourselves becomes more accurate and more real as we “do” God’s word.
God is love.[e]
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Acting in love mirrors God’s love to other people and also becomes the reflection of God that we see when we look in the mirror. If we do these things, we will know God more deeply because the filter through which we know and understand God is our own selves.
Our view of ourselves and God may be distorted by many things, but sin[f] is the primary way our view of God gets distorted. Sin means “missing the mark”. When we engage in sin, therefore, we are engaging in actions, thoughts and a heart attitude that misses the mark of who we are and who we are meant to be. Sin distorts the filter through which we see God.
Sowing to please the flesh from the flesh reaps corruption, but sowing to please the Spirit from the Spirit will reap eternal life.[g] When we sow to please our flesh, the corruption that we reap (sin – which misses the mark and is a distortion of who we are meant to be) requires repentance. If we fail to repent, we allow ourselves (our medium to God) to be distorted, and we fail to see God as He is. On the contrary, when we sow to please the Spirit, our view of God becomes clearer and more accurate and our understanding of God increases.
We are the mechanism not only through which God reveals Himself to others, but we (our bodies, hearts and minds) are the mechanism through which God reveals Himself to us!
If we have yielded ourselves to God and have allowed God to take the “throne” in our hearts, minds and lives, we begin to see God as He really is. The image becomes clearer; our understanding of God grows.
If we fail or refuse to yield ourselves to God, our unyielded selves distort our view of God, and we fail to know Him or understand Him clearly or accurately. When we are not yielded to God, we may only see ourselves in the mirror, thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought; or we may see God has harsh, unloving and arbitrary, thinking too little of ourselves and of God’s love for us. We cannot know God or understand God as He really is without yielding to Him – and yielding to Him means understanding Him as He is.
The truth is that we all see in a mirror dimly, even those among us who are yielded and in right relation to God. We can grow in ever increasing knowledge and understanding of God as we continue to yield to Him and allow His Spirit to bear His fruit in our lives, but as long as we live in these mortal bodies that are bound to the flesh, we will not see God completely as He is.
We still see as in a mirror dimly until we die, but then …. we shall see face to face!
[a] 1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)
[b] Romans 12:6 (ESV)
[c] James 1:21 (ESV)
[d] James 1:22-24 (ESV)
[e] 1 John 4:8
[f] 266/Hamartía (a feminine noun derived from 1/A “not” and 3313/méros, “a part, share of”) – properly, no-share (“no part of”); loss (forfeiture) from not hitting the target; sin (missing the mark).
[g] Galatians 6:8