A Look in the Mirror
Our hope and prayer is that the COVID-19 pandemic will be over soon and we will go back to some sense of “normal.” However, the goal should be to come out on the other side of this event different, stronger, better - changed to be more like Jesus.
Our world has experienced life-altering events like this before - maybe some worse than others - but nonetheless, they get the world and The Church’s attention, but for how long and to what end?
I distinctly remember the time of Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s and how our churches were filled. The idea of war brought an awareness of eternal things – almost a sense of spiritual awakening. Many will remember the days following the 9/11 attacks upon America. We saw great unity among all Americans – even those of differing political persuasions.
Our tendency as believers, like many of our predecessors in the Bible, is to forget the lessons learned during a trial. We are tempted by our earthly, selfish pursuits to leave behind our sense of spiritual awareness.
The Bible is filled with stories of God using world-wide events and also individual struggles in life to bring eternal choices into focus. The Apostle Peter uses the Old Testament example of Lot to illustrate this. Though Lot had the godly influence of Abraham in his life, as well as circumstances and events to shake him from his disobedience, Lot continued his own way, moving toward the wicked city of Sodom at the cost of his wife and much of his family. Peter states, “For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2 Peter 2:8). The word “vexed” indicates being disturbed, even tormented with what he saw and heard, yet he took no action; he never moved his family, confessed his sin nor changed his life’s direction. Lot was spared in an expression of God’s grace; however, he was not spared the consequences of his sin (Gen 11-14, 19). Too often, as unbelievers, we are like Lot, unmoved and unchanged by trials and tests because of stubborn disobedience or shallow, unbiblical thinking during the trial.
James told suffering believers to “let patience have her perfect work (1:4),” which means to stay in the trial until God is finished. James then explains the results of allowing “the trying of your faith” to work patience. The end goal/final product in our life is that “ye may be perfect (full-grown) and entire (complete), wanting nothing (satisfied).” This is what we know to be true about the purpose of trials, but is this what we want? Do we desire that He be glorified and his kingdom advanced or are we only concerned about our temporary, earthly kingdoms (homes, jobs, 401k savings, vacations, materialistic spending)?
Near the end of the fourth chapter of James, we see this concept illustrated. In verses 22-24, a man is described as being a “hearer of the word, but not a doer” after he sees his "natural face" in a mirror, but then went his own way, forgetting what he saw and failing to make any needed changes to his appearance. Like many believers, this man hears the Word during Sunday sermons and bible devotions and is challenged, maybe even convicted about his natural face. His spiritual senses are awakened, needs are made clear, sin is exposed; however, he goes his own way unchanged, no action taken to clean the messy face in the mirror. James tells his readers that this kind of response to God’s convicting Word reveals self-deception.
Have the events of the last few weeks gotten your attention, piqued your interest in eternal things or reminded you that we’re living in the last days? Will you turn to the scriptures and allow God to change the way you do life? Will you be more faithful to your family’s spiritual needs and choose to study the Bible together consistently? Are you burdened for your church family and how you can better serve your local assembly? Are you burdened about your prayer life and your need to confess sin more consistently? Are you really interested in spiritual change? If so, then we must seek to be transformed, allowing God, through the Scriptures to change our lives.
In closing, hear the admonition of Paul in Romans 15 as he encourages believers to spiritual awareness in light of the coming of Christ: “Knowing the time that now it is high time to awake out of sleep for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed (11).” Sometimes certain events and circumstances remind us of this truth that should be part of our daily motivation - to live in the attitude of the eternal that Jesus is coming.
-Guy N. Roberts