Mirrors are very dangerous for proud people.
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 it, couldn’t tear himself away, and it killed him.
All of us sinners are Narcissistic to some degree. But the enchanting power that mirrors have over most of us is different from Narcissus. When we look into a mirror most of us are not captivated by our beauty, we are condemned by our defects.
And for us, mirrors are not just things that hang on our walls. Fallen, proud hearts turn just about everything into a mirror. Magazines, mall browsing, mutual fund reports, someone else’s immaculate lawn or impressive children or beautiful home or successful business or growing church can all become mirrors. Because when we look at them we see reflections of ourselves. We see ourselves wanting in comparison.
So the enchantment ends up being a Narcissistic obsession without changing our self-image into a thing of beauty, usually into the constantly changing, illusive images of what the world tells us is beautiful. And the power we desire our improved image to have is not to enchant ourselves by looking at our direct reflection, but to be enchanted by other people’s admiration of us.
Other people’s admiration is our pool of Narcissus.
This is why focusing on our self-image is so dangerous. Many of us do need our sin-corrupted, Satan-encouraged self-loathing corrected. But this will never happen by focusing on our self-image because our salvation, peace, and happiness are not found in improving our image or having the fleeting pleasure of others’ admiration. We are not designed to be satisfied with our own glory. We are designed to be satisfied with God’s glory (Romans 1:23). And however much we would like to be like God (Genesis 3:5), we never will be, not even close.
We are designed to be satisfied with God’s glory.
The gospel we need won’t be viewed in our mirrors. For that we need to look through a window. And that’s what the Bible is. The Bible is not a mirror; it is a window. It is through the Bible that we come to see reality. And it is through the Bible that we see the “gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and “behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) and “behold [his] face in righteousness” and become “satisfied with [his] likeness” (Psalm 17:15).
The health and restoration of your sin-sick, Narcissistic soul lies in looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). It is not a better you that you need to see. You need to see Jesus and then bask in the amazing truth that the more you look to him and trust him, the more you will be conformed to his beautiful image (Romans 8:29) and that being in Christ you have received and will receive as a free gift (Romans 6:23) all that will make you most satisfied and most truly beautiful (Ephesians 1:3).
Narcissus is a pagan parable of a real danger. Beware of mirrors — any kind of mirror. Look at mirrors as little as possible. Instead, look through a window. Any window is ten-times more healthy for us than a mirror. But especially look through the window of God’s word so you can see Jesus.
He is the Savior (1 John 4:14), the peace (Ephesians 2:14), and the satisfying gain (Philippians 3:8) you are looking for.