A soul that’s not self-reflective is a superficial and impoverished soul. It has no knowledge of its own shortcomings. Its focus is more often on the shortcomings of others. It has no governing capability to mitigate against its own hypocritical double-standards. It looks into the mirror but never to discover its true nature, which can only come through reflective revelation.
I don’t mean to suggest that we should go into some mind-numbing navel-gazing exercise. Quite the opposite. I’m suggesting we learn how to respond to the voice of God.
I say this because our Christian culture seems to be very well trained at hearing but not in responding to what we hear. We love a good messages with lots of truth bombs, we listen to podcasts, we have stuffed lots of information about God into our minds. In some ways, that’s good. But we tend to listen to good teachings, even read the Bible, like a good novel or a guide book of good principles, to be wowed, even entertained, rather than letting it pierce our soul and locate us.
As James says, this type of unresponsive learning is practicing self-deception.
22 Don’t just listen to the Word of Truth and not respond to it, for that is the essence of self-deception. So always let his Word become like poetry written and fulfilled by your life! (James 1:22 TPT*)
For this “Word of Truth” is a Living Person, working in us, “dividing soul and spirit…judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, which is meant to produce the fruit of the Spirit (Heb.4:12; Gal.5:22-23). But we cannot imitate fruit; we must enter into this cooperative process with Truth in order to walk in its freedom. If we don’t let the Bible study us in this way, we become what James calls “forgetful hearers”:
23 If you listen to the Word and don’t live out the message you hear, you become like the person who looks in the mirror of the Word to discover the reflection of his face in the beginning. 24 You perceive how God sees you in the mirror of the Word, but then you go out and forget your divine origin. (James 1:23 TPT*)
When we read what God says about us in His Living Word, we begin to discover our true identity. But if we don’t respond to this reflection by faith, and act on it, we put ourselves on a path of self-deception. We’ve deceived ourselves into thinking we’re spiritually mature when our soul remains impoverished, still in need of milk, because it has not been trained through practice.
13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb.5:13 NIV*)
I said all of that to say this…
What have we learned about ourselves in 2020?
Have the adverse events and circumstances of 2020 colored, or clouded, our perception of what God is actually doing in us, and around us? Are we responding to our circumstances or to what God is saying to us?
Furthermore, what hidden treasure is waiting for us as our vision clears?
I think it would be good for us to reflect on these questions and honestly assess our hearts as this unique and troubling year comes to a close. Because God has been speaking to all of us. And when we turn our hearts toward Him, we will hear what He’s saying. The only thing left for us to do is respond. I will close with this promise from God to those who will enter into this cooperative process with Him.
25 But those who set their gaze deeply into the perfecting law of liberty are fascinated by and respond to the truth they hear and are strengthened by it—they experience God’s blessing in all that they do! (James 1:25 TPT)