The Bible – A Mirror

by A. R. Wright

Mr. Struthers, in one of the copies of “The Morning Watch” pictures a little girl looking into a mirror and saying, “Is you another me?” Thousands of years have passed since girls, and no doubt boys too, first looked into mirrors. The word mirror is said to come from a Latin word meaning “to admire”, and we know for certain that mirrors were used in very early times by people anxious to look their best.

In the days of Moses, we read of the women giving up their mirrors for a praiseworthy purpose.[1] These mirrors were made, not of glass, but of polished metal. Mirrors, or “looking glasses”, made of glass with quicksilver[2] rubbed on the back, were first made at Venice in 1300, and in London in 1673. There are many references to mirrors in literature. Readers of Chaucer will remember how the Squire among the Pilgrims told the story of a mirror which warned the owner of the approach of misfortune. And readers of Tennyson will recall the important part played by the mirror in “The Lady of Shalott”. Oliver Goldsmith imagined a mirror which showed not only the face but also the mind behind it.  Sir John Davies, in the days of Queen Elizabeth, described a mirror which was supposed to show the past, present and future.

But now we wish to talk about a mirror which is even more wonderful than those created by human imagination. That the Bible is God’s mirror for our use is shown clearly in the first chapter of the Epistle of James.[3] We should be constantly looking into this mirror because it will reveal to us our past progress, our present position and our future provision.

The Bible is:

A Mirror Which Shows Us Our Sin

John Bunyan, in the second part of the Pilgrim’s Progress, tells us that when the pilgrims visited the home of the Shepherds, the thing which chiefly interested Mercy was the looking glass in the dining room. She longed to have it for her own. And what a wonderful glass it was! It was “one of a thousand,” and viewed from one angle it showed the pilgrim “with his own features exactly.”

And how true this is of the Bible mirror! When we look into it, it gives a true picture of ourselves. It does not flatter. It shows our follies and weaknesses, our sins and failures.

Some time ago a little girl in our home received several books from a friend. Being still youthful in spirit, I glanced through one of them and was struck by a story entitled “The Enchanted Mirror”. It was about an inspector who visited a certain school and brought with him a wonderful mirror. He told the pupils that he was going to show them what they were really like, and so he invited them to come up one-by-one and look into the mirror. And what a revelation it was! Little Johnny came up and saw a nice fat piggy dressed in a coat and knicker-bockers[4]! “I’m afraid you might be a bit greedy”, whispered the inspector. Shy little Lucy saw a rabbit dressed in her frock with big, startled eyes. “I think you must be too afraid of things”, said the inspector kindly, “You must stand up for yourself you know.” Lazy Jack’s saw a little donkey with big ears, its head sticking out of Jack’s red sweater. “You don’t need to be a little donkey you know”, whispered the inspector, “You’ve got plenty of brains.” Spiteful Betty saw a snarling, spitting kitten with claws outstretched. “Keep your claws in, Betty”, said the inspector, “Don’t be catty.” Honest, trustworthy Rita saw herself there, more beautiful than she had imagined for she was not pretty. “Keep as you are. Don’t change yourself, Rita”, said the inspector. We cannot give details regarding the others: cowardly, bullying Benny; Sammy the little rat; sturdy, fearless Harry a lion; chatterbox Jenny a parrot; fussy Nora a hen; and trustworthy Ronnie a big faithful dog.

It’s only a story, of course, but it gives us some idea of what we may expect to see in the Bible mirror. It shows us exactly as we are. It pictures us not as we see ourselves, or as others see us, but as God sees us. It reveals what we are inwardly. It shows that our heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, that we are all sinners by nature. And then even when we become Christians there are still blots and blemishes which call for daily cleansing. Have you ever prayed, “Lord show me myself?”

A Mirror Which Shows Us Our Saviour

Viewed from one angle, the Looking Glass, which interested Mercy so much, showed the pilgrim with “his own features exactly”, but viewed from another angle it showed the very face and similitude of the Prince of Pilgrims Himself. As we look into an ordinary mirror, we see our own face, but sometimes we see another face, perhaps the beautiful face of our dear Mother standing near us. And as we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we not only see ourselves in all our sinfulness, we also see the Lord Jesus in all His beauty.

We see Him as our Saviour. Speaking of the Looking Glass in the shepherd’s home, Bunyan says, “Yea I have talked with them that have seen the very crown of thorns by looking in that glass. They have also seen the holes in His hands, in His feet, and His side.” And as we look into the Bible mirror we see the Son of God dying in the place of sinners, rising from the dead, and, as the living Christ, holding out the nail pierced hands and inviting us to come to Him for pardon and cleansing. His blood cleanses us from all sin and is always available for those who come and put their trust in Him.

We also see him as our example. We see His sinlessness, we see the beauty of His holiness, we see His glory, and as we behold His glory, we are changed into the same likeness, from one degree of glory to another, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.[5] We tend to grow like the things we see or look at. The more we behold the Son of God in the mirror of the Word, the more we shall be transformed into His likeness. One day we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.[6] Have you ever prayed, “Lord show me Thyself?”

Let me close with a story which I noticed in “The Christian Banner”. It was about a little girl called Laura Grey. For fully ten minutes she stood in front of the mirror in the family sitting room before starting off to school one morning. She twisted her curls over her finger, arranged her necktie, turned her head this way and that to notice the effect, and finally climbed on the table to get a closer view of her pretty face. If she had not been so absorbed, she might have heard the door open and a surprised “Phew!”, from the lips of her uncle Roger. When at last she did turn to get down from the table and found him watching her, the little girl’s face flushed. She expected the rebuke she knew she deserved, and was not a little surprised when he said, “What are useful thing a Looking-Glass is, to be sure! I did not know you appreciated its value so well.” “He is just making fun of me,” Laura thought and she felt very cross, though she said nothing. Her uncle then went on, “I have been intending for some time, my dear, to give you a present of a Looking Glass. I will get one for you this very day.” That evening, when Laura went upstairs to bed she found on her bureau a nicely bound Bible with her name on the flyleaf, in Uncle Roger’s well known handwriting. Under the name were these texts, “The king’s Daughter is all glorious within”[7], and,  “Whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, this man shall be blessed in what he does.”[8] Then Laura understood her uncle’s meaning about the looking glass and felt thoroughly ashamed of her silly vanity.

It is only fair to add that she commenced the practice of daily examining her heart by the mirror of God’s Word with the hope of becoming one of the King’s daughters. I trust that she not only saw herself, but that she saw her Saviour too, and fell into His outstretched arms in simple faith.

[1] Exodus 38:8

[2] An old name for mercury.

[3] James 1:23

[4] Baggy-kneed trousers.

[5] 2 Corinthians 3:18

[6] 1 John 3:2

[7] Psalm 45:13

[8] James 1:25

Print Friendly, PDF & Email