The Word of God says it is like a fire, a hammer, a lamp and a sword. As we progress seeing what the Bible says it is like, we come to something beautiful yet scary! 5) The Bible is like a mirror. It’s amazing the effects of a mirror. When a baby starts to crawl and you put them in front of a mirror, they might be shocked at what they see. Little girls love mirrors because they model against their moms doing their faces. Teenagers, male and female, don’t leave the mirror until they are totally happy with their appearance. When you start to go grey and develop crinkle cuts in the face and neck you tend to avoid the mirror at all costs. A mirror has the uncanny ability to tell the truth. It reveals what it sees … accurately. You might return to the mirror to see what you saw but on each occasion that same mirror tells you exactly what it sees! Even when mirrors are damaged and cracked they don’t tell lies. The Bible tells us it is a mirror. Maybe at first reading it is unclear … but journey with me and see that the Word of God is like a mirror.
1Co 13:12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror …
Sandwiched between chapters 12 and 14, Paul stops to break the tension on the one hand, but on the other he brings his people up to an awareness that their chapter 12 experiences might not be what they thought it was. To place chapter 13 into context we need to look at 1 Corinthians 12:1. As shocking as it might seem too many today, this verse is not only translated incorrectly, the doctrine and beliefs created through the error of translation goes far and wide.
1Co 12:1 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.
Paul is a loving, caring pastor. He wants his congregants to understand doctrinal truth. The words translated “spiritual gifts” should be translated as “spirituality”. The original text says … “Now about spirituality, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.” Their ignorance was related to craving the spectacular gifting the Apostles were given. They wanted the signs, wonders and miracles. They were after the spectacular and supernatural. They wanted what sparked their image, appearance and worth amongst the Body of Christ … yet if you know this church, they were so immature, not understanding the fundamentals. Read the whole letter slowly and carefully and you will see they did not understand … spiritual leadership; baptism; singleness, marriage, divorce & incest; they did not understand how the Body was to function; what sacrifice and supporting the weaker brothers and sisters meant; what leaving the world should look like; how the Lord’s Table ought to be administered … and amongst many other things, they did not understand dying and what then happens to a believer; nor did they understand the resurrection of the body. Yet … they wanted the spectacular! Each one wanted to be seen and heard and considered so important and vital to the Body for without them, they thought, the Body would cease to exist! Now after Paul deals with the shape of true love:
1Co 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres
contrasting it with the loveless, self-centered, ego seeking, non-Gospel behaviour of verses 1-3:
1Co 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing
1Co 13:8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Remember they did not have the complete Bible as we have it today. Even the apostles did not have the complete Scriptures … to, to authenticate the Gospel Messages they proclaimed God gave them various supernatural gifts. Because these were spectacular, some of the Corinthian Church tried to copy it. Verses 1-3 is what was happening at the exclusion of verse 5-8a. So, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul informs them that their spiritual conduct was nothing less than immature … verses 11-12. Spiritual ignorance prevents spiritual maturity. Then he informs them (likely to their disgust) that as soon as the “perfect comes” (v10), the imperfect disappears” (v10). That is, prophecies, tongues, and knowledge (and all the other spectacular gifts that supported the Apostles ministry) would cease. When would this happen? As soon as the complete Bible was available! After reading verse 8 again read … 9 “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” The “perfect” is to complete Bible! The mirrors of those days were not as sophisticated as ours today. Brass plates do not reveal the way glass mirrors do … they are a “poor reflection” as were the “spectacular gifts”, but the perfect (Bible) helps us to see face to face … that is perfectly. Why hanker after that which was withdrawn and imperfect when we have the real, authentic Word of God to expose our problems, sins and needs perfectly as we use it to prepare for service here and heaven then?
Precious God, today we bless and praise You with thankful hearts for giving us Your Word, which is eternal. It is the most precious thing we have to cling onto Your Truth and Promises. Grant us a greater appetite to use Your Word more. Grant us a passion to apply it better. Help us to use it properly … For Jesus’ sake. Amen.