************ Sermon on Proverbs 27:19 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 10, 2015
A Look in a mirror. What do you see? You see a reflection. Look in a lake on a clear calm day. What do you see? You see a reflection.
But there are other kinds of reflections too. Look at a young lady. What do you see? Often you will see a reflection of her mother. Look at a young man. What do you see? Often you will see a reflection of his father. But these are not the only reflections you will see. Many people also try to reflect their hero: a movie star, an athlete, a politician, a teacher, a preacher, an elder or deacon, an older brother or sister.
There is still one more kind of reflection. I am thinking of Moses. He climbed to the top of Mount Sinai. He met with God. God talked with him as a man talks with his friend. Forty days later, when people looked at Moses they saw in his face a reflection of God's glory. This glorious reflection was too much to look at, so Moses was asked to put a veil over his face.
"As water reflects a face, so man's heart reflects the man" (Prov 27:19). All of us are reflections of someone or something.
B There is one basic difference between people and a lake or a mirror, however. The lake and the mirror have no choice about what they reflect. People, on the other hand, do have a choice on what they reflect. Most of us, for instance, choose -- whether consciously or unconsciously -- to reflect our parents. And, we also make a deliberate decision to reflect our hero.
Congregation, whom do you choose to reflect in your life? Who do you want people to see when they look at you? As people who have celebrated baptism and the Lord's Supper today who does your life reflect?
C As Christians we have to make sure that those we reflect our worthy of being reflected. We are irresponsible if we pick just anyone. Some movie stars, for instance, lead glamorous lives but they also have the morals of an alley cat. Many sports heroes have feet of clay. Too many politicians have been caught in a lie. A teacher is exposed as a child molester or a thief. A preacher is caught looking at dirty pictures or picking up a prostitute. A parent or grand-parent is discovered to be abusive. An elder is found out to be an adulterer.
So congregation, I ask you again: whom do you choose to reflect in your life? Who do you want people to see when they look at you?
The point of our text is that every Christian is a living reflection of someone or something.
II Choose to Reflect Jesus
A I ask the congregation to turn with me in Scripture to 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 ... I especially want to emphasize verse 18.
(2 Cor 3:18) And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Paul tells us three things here. First, he reminds us that we are like Jesus. We "all reflect the Lord's glory." It is a natural law that a mirror reflects the image in front of it. In the same way, it is a spiritual law that Christians are people who reflect Christ.
B Second, Paul reminds us that "we are being transformed into his (that is, Christ's) likeness with ever-increasing glory." God is at work in us with Christ and through His Spirit, to make us reflect the glory of Christ.
Has anyone here ever been to Mt. Rushmore? We were there once, in the rain. Yet, the carved figures of the four presidents was still most impressive.In the same way, God is at work in us and with us shaping our lives, chipping away those things that must go so that Christ's image comes into view.
Someone asked the sculptor how he produced the amazing work. He replied, "Those figures were always there ... All I had to do was dynamite 400,000 tons of granite to bring them into view."
C Third, this means that we are supposed to reflect Jesus. When people look at us they are supposed to see a reflection of Jesus. Let's start with your children and grandchildren. Do they see Christ when they look at you? If you are a teacher, what about your students? What do they see when they look at you? And, what about people in the world? Do they see Christ when they look at you? This reminds me of the little boy who said, "I think Jesus was like my Sunday School teacher." Have you ever been compared to Jesus? Have any of your friends ever compared you to Jesus? Have your children or grand-children ever compared you to Jesus?
I repeat what I just said: when people look at us, they should be able to see reflections of Jesus.
(Pro 27:19) As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man.Our lives are supposed to reflect the image of Jesus.
What it comes down to is this: as Christians we should choose to reflect Jesus before and above anyone else. It is Jesus we should want people to see when they look at us.
III How to Reflect Jesus
A What exactly does it mean to be a reflection of Jesus? In what way or what form are we to be a reflection of Jesus? I can mention many different things. But I want to mention this evening just three of them for people who have been baptized and taken the Lord's Supper.
First, we are to reflect Christ by practicing self-denial. I think of what Paul writes in Philippians 2:7. He tells us there that Christ emptied Himself. He made Himself nothing. He emptied Himself for a while of the prestige, honor, and glory of God.
We see this often in the Gospels. More than once Jesus commanded people He had healed to keep quiet about what He had done (Mt 8:4; 9:30). After Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus "warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ" (Mt 16:20). And, when Jesus had been glorified and transfigured on the mountain He said to His disciples "Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the son of Man has been raised from the dead" (Mt 17:9). Why did Jesus command silence? Because He did not want the praise or honor of men. Christ practiced self-denial. He emptied Himself of the divine glory.
If we reflect Christ, then we, like Him, ought to practice self-denial.
This is not easy to do, is it? One of the easiest things in the world to do is to practice selfishness. It is easy, far too easy, to think of myself first. It is easy to be dominating and domineering. It is easy to spend money on myself first. It is easy to boast about myself. It is easy to look after my own interests.
However, this is not what God wants from us. He wants us to reflect Christ, to practice self-denial. "Do nothing," writes Paul to the church at Philippi, "out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Phil 2:3). Before writing about Christ's self-denial, Paul instructs us to have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5).
Are you a braggart? Do you love to act like a big-shot, a big-wheel? Do you get angry if someone else scores the big one and is proclaimed the hero? Do you love to be the center of attention? Do you want all eyes focused on you? If the answer is "yes" then you are not reflecting Christ.
In his book Dropping Your Guard, Charles Swindoll writes, "I was thumbing through one of the national periodicals and happened upon a picture of President Reagan sitting in the Oval Office. He was behind his desk, signing some documents ... I noticed a small sign on his desk that was too small to read. It intrigued me. I found a magnifying glass and looked closer; the print was blurred ... The next morning I had my secretary telephone the White House and talk with someone who could give us the information." She found out that the sign on the President's desk said: There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit.That motto expresses the character of those who reflect the Lord. It expresses a spirit of self-denial.
Besides the Lord Jesus, one of the best examples of someone who practiced self-denial was Mother Theresa. This woman impressed me. She worked with the poorest of India's poor -- the destitute, the dying, the lepers, the tiny babies abandoned on garbage heaps, AIDS patients. She, and her helpers, spent hours every day washing sick and dying bodies, cleaning toilets, cutting away rotting flesh, emptying bedpans. And, at night she didn't go home to riches; she lived a life of poverty. In the name of Christ she lived a life of self-denial.
B Second, we are to reflect Christ by practicing total obedience. Obedience lies at the heart of the events surrounding the suffering and death of Christ. In the Garden Jesus prayed, "Not my will, but yours be done" (Lk 22:42). Jesus could have prevented Judas from betraying Him. Jesus could have destroyed the crowd that came to arrest Him. Jesus could have stopped the hands of those hitting Him and silenced the tongues of those mocking Him. But He didn't because that was not God's will. "Not my will, but yours be done." Christ was completely and perfectly obedient to the Father. He was obedient to death -- even death on a cross!
Obedience reflected not just the end of Christ's life but all of His life. He was tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin (Heb 4:15). "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work" (Jn 4:34). Everything said, done, and thought by Christ conformed to God's Holy law.
If we reflect Christ, then we, like Him, ought to practice total and complete obedience.
This too is hard to do, isn't it? It is hard for us to reflect Christ and to be totally obedient in all things. Can any of us say that we don't think bad thoughts, say bad words, do bad things? Go through the Ten Commandments. Do any of us dare to claim we always respect mom and dad, never think impure thoughts, always use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe? Like Christ, do any of us always say to God, "Not my will, but yours be done"? Are we willing to be obedient to death, to die for the faith, to be martyrs whose blood is our testimony?
C Third, we are to reflect Christ by showing love. What is love? Few words are as empty and meaningless today as the word love. Because there are so many different kinds of love.
For instance, there is love for nature. Last week Ron Koetsier and myself (and 35 others) bicycled from Visalia to Monterey. We were on back roads, climbed mountains, descended into valleys. The countryside was spectacular. More than once I found myself saying, "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth" (Ps 8:1). There is nothing wrong with having a love for nature unless, like some environmentalists, you make it your religion.
There is also the love of family. Siblings appreciate each other though some of them would never choose each other as friends. This domestic love is comfortable like a pair of slippers and doesn't ask much of the other person. And yet, as I have seen too often, this love can easily turn into alienation and hatred.
A mother's love is supposed to be the strongest kind of love. A mother hen will put herself in harm's way to protect her chicks. A mother bear is downright scary if you appear to be a threat to its cubs. But a Mother's love can go bad when it becomes a sick dependence.
Companionship is another kind of love. It is wonderful when two or three break the loneliness of one. However, we all know that groups can do a level of sin that a single person would not even dream of.
Friendship also involves love. But friendship can turn into a clique that keeps others out.
Marital love illustrates God's relationship with us, His church. It is an intimate love. But it is also a jealous love. And can become a controlling love.
The Greek word that describes God's love for us in Christ is agape. It is this love which brought Christ to the cross and the grave. This is a love which gives for the sake of the other person, for the good of the other person. This is a love which isn't selfish and self-centered. This is a love which gladly makes sacrifices for the other person.
If we reflect Christ, then we, like Him, ought to show agape love.
But this, too, is hard to do. We lead such busy, busy lives. Who among us has time to go out of our way to do loving things? And, our sinful nature would rather hate than show love.
Congregation, as people who have celebrated baptism and the Lord's Supper we are called to be reflections of Jesus. As I keep saying, this is difficult. It is difficult to be reflections of Jesus. But, don't forget, God is at working in. He is molding and sculpting and chipping away and forming us.
People should be able to look at you, at me, and they should be able to see Jesus. They should be able to see His self-denial. They should be able to see His total obedience and holiness. They should be able to see His love. But do they? That's the question.
On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription:
James Butler Bonham -- no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom.No portrait of Jesus exists either. Yet, people should be able to see Christ's likeness in you and me. They should be able to see Christ's reflection in us.
So I ask you, do people see the reflection of Christ when they see you?
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