From Mirror to Microscope: Properly Using the Word of God

By Thailer

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.” (Hebrews 4:12, 13)

The word of God is a valuable tool in the life of a Christian. When we read the Bible, we’re not approaching just some ‘boring book’ written thousands of years ago – we’re approaching a living and active word of God that moves in us and works in us and convicts us and rebukes us and reveals to us who we really are. It’s easy to think that when we approach the Bible, we are judging the content therein but truly we are the ones being judged. And nothing escapes from God’s sight but rather, before Him, all things are exposed.

God’s word is meant to be a spiritual mirror given to us to see what no one can really see on the surface: the state of our hearts. It’s intended that when we see the various inconsistencies in our lives compared to the mirror of God’s word, we’ll make the necessary changes and start being obedient to His commands. James says, “But be 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 a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:22-25).

This is a powerful tool given to us for our good. However, like all powerful tools, it can be misused. You and I both have heard the terrible stories of factory workers who have suffered even death because they did not use machinery in the way it was intended. So it is with this mirror. The problem is that I think we can forget that it is supposed to be a mirror and we use it as a microscope to examine the lives of those around us. We turn God’s mirror (intended to reveal our sin) into our microscope (to judge another’s sin).

Now, we certainly have the command given to ‘watch out’ for our brothers in order to bear their burden and aid their souls (Galatians 6:1, 2). But there is great danger, as a human being in the middle of their own sanctification, to sit in the judgment seat on others. Jesus warns, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5). Jesus says, ‘Mirror first.’ Before we even think to judge, we need to consider ourselves because as the ‘log’ is larger than the ‘speck’ so are our problems a matter of more importance than that of others’.

I have unmercifully judged others in the past when suffering from the same problems myself. I know that I need the daily grace of God in remembering to take a step down from the judgment seat when it’s reserved from another. I need to remember, as James 2:13 says, “Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

So, meanwhile, I hope we can be content using God’s word as intended: a mirror and not a microscope. And I encourage you to look into this mirror each and every day to see what God is revealing to you about YOU. That as you see the Savior in the Scriptures, you would grow more and more like Him: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).



9 thoughts on “From Mirror to Microscope: Properly Using the Word of God

  1. brandy and i were just reading this one aloud on the back swing this morning. praise the Lord for His wonderful Word, both Written (Bible) and Living (Jesus).

  2. Thanks for the encouragement to start with “the person in the mirror” … It’s often easier to correct others than to discipline self.

  3. John Piper compares/contrasts what we do with God’s Word in terms of a microscope and a telescope. Microscopes and telescopes both magnify. But a microscope makes tiny things appear larger while a telescope makes huge things that are far away appear larger we can see them more as they really are. John the Baptist said that he must decrease while Jesus must increase. That is how we are to magnify God, by making more of him and less of ourselves.


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