Do you spend any time doing self-reflection? I think it’s actually a healthy habit to get into. Before we get any further into this topic, though, I think we need to have a good understanding of what I am talking about. First, consider a couple of definitions for the word reflection: 1) a thought, idea, or opinion formed or a remark made as a result of meditation and 2) consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose. Self-reflection is taking time to consider oneself. As a believer, this is done with the help of prayer.
Now think about another definition of the word reflection: the production of an image by or as if by a mirror. When I think about self-reflection, I think about what image I am projecting. Now let’s take this a step further and consider the word image. When you think of the word image in the most general sense, what comes to mind? The world has its own idea of image. Image is all about what you portray to others.
Unfortunately in our culture today, we are fed a lot of untruths about image. We are told that we need to look, think and act a certain way. Women are portrayed with a worldly image that makes us more like objects than anything else. Today’s idea of marriage has a different image than it did in the past. Now marriage is nothing more than something you can try out and if you don’t like it, end it. Even in politics there is a certain image that we are supposed to follow…its called being “politically correct.” With all of the different worldly images that we have pounded into us day after day, it can be easy to fall right into that trap.
And that’s exactly why I think self-reflection is very important. We need to consider our thinking and behavior and examine if we have fallen into some of the traps that have been laid out there. Sometimes this happens so subtly that we don’t even notice it.
So now that we have considered the world’s idea of image, let’s look at what God says about image.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image…” (Genesis 1:26)
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)
…for in the image of God has God made man. (Genesis 9:6)
Genesis is all about the beginning. Clearly, from the beginning God made it known that we were created in HIS image. Not the image the world tells us. Not the image our own hearts tell us. Not the image another person tells us. Our image is to be a reflection of God.
So how are you doing? This is where the self-reflection comes in. Have others been able to see God in you? Or has your reflection been something else? We should be reflecting God in everything we say and do. At the same time, we are contending with these earthly bodies that want to do their own thing. Remember the struggles of Paul? We all share them. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing (Romans 7:19).
Not too long ago a friend shared with me about some spiritual struggles she was having. God was peeling away layers that were revealing some unflattering things. I tried to encourage her because it wasn’t that long ago that I had gone through a similar experience. It seemed like suddenly all that was “wrong” in me was getting this huge spotlight shone upon them. My encouragement was that it was good He was doing this because in the end, we will know Him more, have grown in our relationship with Him, and grown as a believer…there is always something good that comes out of those times.
Have you ever had someone point out something about you that they didn’t care for? Whether it was true or not (and most likely it was true), it hurt. It hurts to have these less-than-admirable traits, characteristics or flaws pointed out. Most times when someone points something out, it’s meant to do nothing more than hurt. However, when God begins to reveal these things, He has a whole different intent.
God never intends to harm us, to discourage us, to bring us down or to lay guilt upon us. When He peels away the layers and we begin to see the things in us that need change, that need work or that just need to be done away with—it means He is ready to do something new in us! And that should cause us to rejoice. If He left us where we are at, then we would never know growth in Him!
Don’t fear or shy away from self-reflection. This is really about getting down to the nitty-gritty of the Christian walk and determining what still needs some work. I don’t want to stay where I am at. I am not satisfied to continue being the same person I am today. I know that I have a lot of work yet left to be done within me. But at the same time, I can also joyfully look back and realize that I am not the same person I was 20, 10 or 5 years ago. We should be growing, changing and maturing in our walk with God. Part of this comes through times of self-reflection.