Remember the story of Narcissus? He’s the proud, beautiful man in the Greek myth who saw his reflection in a pool, fell in love with it, couldn’t tear himself away, and it killed him.
Mirrors are very dangerous for proud people. Believe me. I speak from experience.
But mirrors present most of us with a different danger than Narcissus. When we look into a mirror we do not see enchanting beauty, nor do we see the glory of God imaging forth in the indescribably complex, ingenious, phenomenal, spectacular miracle that is a human being. What we see mainly are defects.
The captivating power mirrors wield over us is not what we see, but what we want to see. What we see is deficiency. What we desperately want to see is sufficiency.
And worse yet, we see mirrors are all around us. Fallen, proud hearts turn just about everything into a mirror. Whether we’re gazing at magazines or malls or mutual funds or someone else’s immaculate lawn, impressive children, beautiful home, successful business, or growing church, we see ourselves. We see ourselves wanting.
And as we look into these mirrors, seductive messages are whispered into our heart: “Fix that and you will be happy,” or “Better yourself and others’ admiration, acceptance, respect, success, or attraction will save you,” or “Improve yourself and you will please, or at least appease, your god.”
These are the promises of every false gospel. Which is why mirrors are such effective messengers of false gospels.
But happiness, salvation, and peace will never be found in beholding an image, even a relatively improved image, of ourselves. That’s because we are designed to be satisfied when we look at and believe in Jesus, not us.
The Apostle Paul tells us that the true gospel is the “gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). John the Baptist instructs us to “behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). King David sings, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalm 17:15).
It is not a better you that you need to see. You need to see Jesus.
Narcissus is a pagan parable of a real danger. Beware of mirrors. Look at them as little as possible. Instead, open the window of the Word and “Look to Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1). He is the Savior (1 John 4:14), the peace (Ephesians 2:14), and the gain (Philippians 3:8) you are looking for.