Say What? – Stuart Segall
“Say what? What does that mean?” is what I said to myself when I first read these words many years ago. Paul expressed that “now we see in a mirror dimly” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Paul describes this partial knowledge of God as seeing a reflection in a dim mirror. Some scholars suggest that he had in mind Corinth’s famous bronze mirrors.
Though the brass mirror of its time provided a reflection, it was not a sharp, clear reflection like modern mirrors provide. If the brass was not freshly polished, the reflection in the mirror became dimmer.
Now that you understand the history of this passage, what does it mean to see in a mirror dimly? “To see “through a glass or into a mirror dimly or darkly” is to have an obscured or imperfect vision of reality.
Paul has been describing our knowledge of God and His ways as incomplete or partial.
First Corinthians 13:1–13 is one of the most loved and well-known passages in the Bible, but Paul places it after his teaching on the spiritual gifts for a specific reason. Some of the gifts may seem impressive, but if attempted without self-sacrificing love for others, they become meaningless, even destructive.
Have you ever observed someone who saw themselves “gifted” with knowledge?
One of the most important virtues of our life and walk as followers of Jesus is humility. God makes a big deal of this virtue. Micah 6:8 reminds us that the Lord requires us to “walk humbly.” Not to just take it for a test drive from time to time, or in case of emergency, but it is the standard for living daily.
“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble” (Isaiah 66:2).
Have you bought into this truth? Are you a hearer, a reader, a seer – which leads to you being a “doer.” If you do, here is one thing you want to zero in on in brass mirror analogy.
Remembering that we do not see God clearly should help keep us humble. It should make us reluctant to criticize other people’s experiences with God. I was not always this way. I thought “knowing more” was proof that God was closer to people because after all they knew so much. When you feel gifted or enlightened by knowledge or perceived knowledge, often a false sense of security can overtake the true sense of security, grace, and faith in Christ.
It is easy with some who may have perceived an aspect of the great Lord that we have not, or we may have found revelation that has been withheld from them.
Neither of us is to be blamed for not seeing the whole picture. In this world, the whole picture is not available. Yet, Jesus through Paul made this clear.
While we see in the mirror dimly, may we see clearly and show others clearly, that scripture has taught us to be humble with all people God is working with and relating to. Have a wonderful walk on your journey as you walk humbly with God. When you do, you will model it to all who come your way.
Stuart Segall lives about an hour north of Seattle. He has spent most of his adult life counseling, encouraging, inspiring and uplifting others.