Joel Osteen - The Right Mirror
I want to talk to you today about The Right Mirror. It's so important how we see ourselves. Your self-image will determine whether you reach your full potential. If you see yourself lacking, at a disadvantage, not attractive, it will limit your life. It's not that you don't have great potential, it's your self-image is distorted.
We have the big rodeo here in town once a year, and we always go early to the carnival. One of the attractions is this room filled with mirrors. You walk in front of one mirror, it makes you a couple feet taller. Another one makes your chest real big, your arms exaggerated. There are mirrors that leave your body normal, but your head is shrunk, your mouth, nose features, all out of whack. Certain mirrors make you look a hundred pounds heavier, a body all out of proportion. None of these images are a true image. It's not who you really are, they're all distorted. And of course we're smart enough to know it's just for fun, we get a good laugh, and move on. But how many of us in real life don't recognize when we're looking at a distorted mirror? We see ourselves as not talented, not attractive, unqualified, made a lot of mistakes. Now that distorted image is holding us back. What would happen if we got rid of the wrong mirror?
The scripture says you've been made in the image of God. He made you talented, beautiful, smart, confident. You are fully equipped for the purpose he's laid out for you. But the trick of the enemy is to distort your self-image. He doesn't want you to see yourself the way you really are. Like that carnival, he'll put up these distorted mirrors. The Psalmist said, "You've been fearfully and wonderfully made", but when you look in this mirror, you'll see all your flaws, everything you don't like will be exaggerated. You've been forgiven and redeemed, but when you look in that mirror, you'll see all your mistakes, failures, times you didn't measure up. Looking back at you is a guilty, unworthy, undeserving person. It's a distorted mirror.
Maybe you've been through disappointments, life hasn't treated you fairly, that distorted mirror will come up. You'll see yourself as a victim, defeated, nothing good in your future. The truth is: God has beauty for those ashes. What was meant for harm, he's turning to your advantage. What's the problem? You're looking in the wrong mirror. As long as you're letting that define who you are, as long as you're believing those distorted images, it will keep you from rising higher. You have to get rid of that mirror, and go get the right mirror.
James chapter 1 says, "God's word is like a mirror". It reflects who you really are. What God says about you is the true image, you need to keep in front of you. You are not defined by people, by your past, by how you were raised, but what didn't work out. You were defined by your Creator. When you look in the mirror of God's word, you'll find that you are valuable, you are talented, you are confident, favored, blessed, worthy. As you see yourself the way God sees you, it begins to heal damaged self-images. His word will repair the hurts, the scars, the unfair things that have caused you to see yourself as lacking, inferior, unqualified. Keep this right mirror in front of you. It may not happen overnight, but if you'll keep seeing yourself the right way, little by little you're changing. You're going to become what you're seeing. Maybe you're struggling with an addiction. As long as you see yourself addicted, you're going to stay that way. You have to change mirrors. Start seeing yourself free, clean, whole, restored. You have to see it on the inside, before it will happen on the outside.
You won't be successful with the negative image of yourself. Like a magnet, how you see yourself will keep pulling you toward it. If you see yourself struggling, barely getting by, scarcity mentality, you're moving toward it. What would happen if you would change mirrors, start seeing yourself as blessed, prosperous, talented, having a bountiful year, blessings chasing you down? Then because you have the right image, because you're in agreement with God, you're moving toward abundance, overflow, good breaks, a bountiful life. If you see yourself as lonely, not a good personality, inferior, it's pulling you toward loneliness, not having friends, not meeting anyone. Do yourself a favor, change mirrors. You're beautiful, you're attractive, you're one of a kind. You've been crowned with favor. You're a prize. Whoever gets you it's like they won the lottery. When you have the right mirror, you'll put your shoulders back, you'll hold your head up high, and you'll carry yourself like the royalty God created you to be.
I talked to a man the other day, and he told how his business is down, how the pandemic has set him back, and his company's making changes, his retirement may be in jeopardy, on and on. And when he got finished, I was depressed too. I was ready to give up, we both were. What's his problem? He's looking in a distorted mirror. He sees himself as washed up, disadvantaged, nothing good in his future. That's pulling him toward lack, mediocrity, struggle. I told him what I'm telling you: you have to get a new mirror. God's word, the right mirror says, many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers us out of them all. It says when the enemy comes like a flood, God raises up a barrier. It says your latter days will be better than your former days.
If you'll see yourself that way, as a victor, and not a victim, then even in tough times you'll stay confident, hopeful, expecting God's favor, knowing that he didn't bring you this far to leave you. He hasn't failed you in the past, he's not going to start now. Have an image of victory. You're not weak, defeated, overcome by problems, you're a warrior, you've been armed with strength for every battle. You are full of can-do power. The forces that are for you are greater than forces that are against you. Don't go through life looking in distorted mirrors, mirrors that are magnifying wrong things, causing you to see yourself as small, limited, unqualified.
"Well, Joel, this problem is too big, I'll never overcome this sickness, never get out of debt, never break this addiction". The reason the enemy is trying to distort your image is because he knows who you really are. He knows you're a giant killer. He knows you're made in the image of God. He knows you have seeds of greatness. Don't let his phony mirror keep you from stepping into your greatness. Don't let a wrong self-image keep you from leaving your mark. How much further will you go? How much happier will you live? How much more confidence will you have, if you'll get rid of the distorted images, and start seeing yourself the way God sees you?
This is what the Israelites had to do. They had been in slavery for many years, and God brought them out, parted the Red Sea, and they were headed toward the Promised Land. In the desert they didn't have a temple where they could worship, a big building, they had a tent, or what they called the tabernacle where they would meet. Before the priests could go into the altar area, they had to wash their hands and feet in this large bowl of water at the entry of the tent. What's significant is how this bowl was made. Exodus 38, "Says Moses made this large wash basin from the bronze mirrors he melted down from the Israeli women". Mirrors in that day weren't made out of glass, they were made out of polished bronze. They would be so shiny, you could see your reflection. The Israelite women got these mirrors from the Egyptians as they were on their way out of slavery. God caused them to have favor with their captors, and they gave them their gold, silver, and fine clothing.
These mirrors were valuable to the women. They had nothing special for years, now they had these nice bronze mirror, that then Moses comes along and says, "Give me your mirrors. I want to melt them down and make a bowl, where the priest can cleanse themselves". He could have said, "Give me your pots and pans. Give me your hammers and chisels, I'll make the wash basin out of that". But God said to the women, "Give me your mirrors". When these women looked in the mirror, they saw former slaves, they saw tired, defeated, unqualified people staring back. You can imagine being in bondage for years, being mistreated, working day and night, those mirrors only reminded them of all they'd been through, how unfair it was, how unattractive, inferior they were. God showed up and said, "Give me those mirrors". He was saying, "Give me your image. You can't become who I created you to be looking in those mirrors. Let me have them".
Notice what God did: he melted down the bronze mirrors, signifying, "I'm melting down anything that does not reflect who I made you to be. I'm melting down the shame, the heartache, the guilt, the mistreatment, the unworthiness. The next time you see this mirror it's going to be in a bowl for cleansing, meaning I'm washing away negative things of the past, washing away what the enemy tried to do, washing away the mistakes you've made, the bad breaks, what you didn't get, what wasn't fair, and I'm going to give you a new way of seeing yourself". God is saying, "You can't reach your destiny, unless you give me your image".
You have to give God your mirror. Don't let how you were raised, what wasn't fair create your image, give it to God. He'll melt down the wrong ways you see yourself. Don't let other people determine your image, what someone said, a parent, a coach, an ex-spouse, hurtful words, "You're not good enough, you're not attractive, you'll never amount to much". That wrong mirror will keep you in bondage. God knew, if these women kept seeing themselves the way they were, they would have lived defeated, insecure, feeling less than. He had to get their mirror before they could step into the fullness of what he had in store.
After all doesn't do any good to go into the Promised Land if you still see yourself as lacking, not enough, I don't deserve it. What's limiting some people is not the fact that God doesn't have good breaks, favor, new relationships. It's that they won't give God their image. If he takes you to a new level, but you still see yourself the wrong way, you're not going to enjoy it. You have to give him your mirror first. Let him have your image. See yourself the way he sees you, then you can go into your Promised Land.
Sometimes it's guilt holding us back, "I made too many mistakes, I don't deserve it". We see ourselves as unworthy, not valuable. We live on the sidelines of life, no passion, not pursuing our goals. Don't keep that old image, give God your mirror. His word will melt down all the guilt, the shame, the insecurities. He sees you without fault. He calls you righteous, holy, blameless.
In the scripture Jacob was known for being dishonest, cheating people. He tricked his brother out of his birthright, went around manipulating, conniving. His name even means swindler, supplanter, deceiver. He lived up to it. You can imagine how he saw himself. That still small voice whispered, "Jacob, you're better than this. I have a plan, a destiny for you to fulfill, I put greatness in you". God was saying, "Jacob, give me your image, get rid of that distorted mirror". I'm sure thoughts told him, "No way, Jacob, this is just who you are, you're a fraud, you're a con man, just accept it". Years went by, nothing changed. But one day Jacob did what I'm asking us to do. Despite his flaws, despite his mistakes, he went down to the brook alone one night to be with God. He thought, "I'm tired of living this way, I want to make a change". He was saying in effect, "I've seen myself as a failure, I've lived condemned, I don't like who I am. God, I'm going to give you my mirror, I'm going to see myself the way you see me".
That night he wrestled with an angel. He thought it was a man, but he wrestled with him, the angel wouldn't let him go. At daybreak the angel said to him, "You will no longer be called Jacob, God is giving you a new name, you will be called Israel". Israel means prince with God. God was saying, "I'm taking that mirror that shows you as a deceiver, trickster, con man, and I'm melting it down, getting rid of all those impurities. Now your new image will be a prince with God". When he saw himself as a prince, he started making choices that honored God. Out of Jacob came the 12 tribes of Israel. It would have never happened if he had kept looking in the wrong mirror.
Why don't you give God your image? He says you're redeemed, you're restored, he calls you a prince with God. The enemy would love for you to go through life with the wrong mirror, seeing yourself as a failure, focused on your mistakes, feeling unworthy. You don't do better when you have a negative image of yourself. That cycle keeps repeating. But when you give God your mirror, despite what you've done wrong, despite how you feel, you start believing that you're forgiven, that you're valuable, that you're worthy, that you deserve to be blessed, not because of who you are, but because of whose you are, then you're going to step into your greatness.
Now you too may have failed, we all have. That's what you did, but that's not who you are. Failure is an event, not a person. You may struggle with an addiction, but you are not an addict, that's what you do, that's not who you are. Don't let that image take root: you are a child of the Most High God. You're not Jacob, you're Israel, you're a prince with God. That's how he sees you. Too often we don't realize our self-image has been damaged, we've gone through hurts, disappointments, we've made mistakes. We wonder: why we can't rise any higher? We're looking in the wrong mirror.
That's what happened with Gideon in the scripture. He was hiding afraid in a wine press, intimidated. An angel showed up and said, "Mighty hero, the Lord is with you. You are to lead the Israelites against the Midianites". Gideon looked around, thought who's he talking about? There's no mighty hero here, you must have missed your assignment, because I'm afraid. Gideon said, "I come from the poorest family, I'm the least one in my father's house". Notice the two mirrors: "Least one", poorest, defeated, can't do anything great. Then God's mirror, "Mighty hero, fearless courage, history maker". Here's the key: you can't keep your mirror and have Gods too. You have to give God your image, let him control how you see yourself. Not the media, not your family, not your job, not the critics. Don't give other people your mirror. If you do, you'll become who they want you to be. They don't always have your best interests at heart. Give God your mirror. He knows what's in you, he can see things that you can't see.
But the reason sometimes we act like Gideon, we don't see ourselves as mighty, influential, talented, is we don't realize what's in us. It takes faith to say, "God, I feel afraid, I'm intimidated, I don't see how I can do this, but if you say I can, then I'm gonna get an agreement with you, and believe that I can". That's when you'll discover talent, ability, courage, favor that you've never seen. Yes, it's normal at times to feel intimidated, to think you can't step up to a new level, but this is where your faith has to kick in. "God, I'm giving you this weak, limited, can't-do-it image, and I'm gonna look in your mirror. I feel weak, but I know you see me as strong. I feel intimidated, but you see me bold and courageous. I feel outnumbered, but you see me more than enough. I'm facing this illness, but you see me healthy and whole".
Gideon got rid of that old mirror and started looking in the right mirror, saw himself as a mighty hero. He went out and defeated the Midianites. Today he's listed as one of the heroes of faith. Is a wrong mirror keeping you from your greatness? Have you believed the lies that you're too old, too young, not smart enough, wrong nationality, too many setbacks? That's okay, you're right where Gideon was. You can still become a mighty hero. Give God your image. See yourself the way he sees you.
From the time he was five years old, little Jim had a terrible problem with stuttering. Other kids at school made fun of him, he became very insecure, and isolated himself, wouldn't talk with others, wouldn't go out and play with friends. He didn't want to be ridiculed. He loved to write poetry. When other kids were out playing sports, he stayed inside and focused on his poems. As a teenager, one of his teachers loved poetry too. When she found out that Jim was a gifted writer, she tried to get him to read his poems in the class. Jim wasn't about to, he couldn't do that, he stuttered too badly. When he was nervous, he could hardly get a word out. One day his teacher came up with a plan: turned in his writing assignment, it was so brilliant, she said in front of the whole class: "Jim I don't think you wrote this. There's no way, this is so good". He stuttered and said, "No, ma'am, I did write it". She said, "No, I don't believe you. I've been teaching for years, I've never seen anything close to being this good". He said it again, stuttering more emphatically, "Yes, I promise you, I wrote this". She said then you're going to have to prove it to me, you're going to have to read it in front of the class, so that I can see that you know it.
Jim reluctantly walked up front, as he held the paper his hand was shaking, so nervous. Other kids were snickering, whispering to each other: here comes the stuttering. But when he begin to read the poem, the rhythm of what he'd written flowed out so naturally, that he never stuttered a word. He couldn't believe it. The kids couldn't believe it. The teacher stood there in awe. As he continued reading, they discovered that he had an amazing voice, deep, resonant, compelling. He read with incredible passion and skill. From that time on Jim never stuttered again. Today we know little Jim as James Earl Jones, not only a great actor, but one of the great voices of our day.
I believe deep down you know God has put great things in you, you know you can rise higher, you know you can set a new standard for your family. You can beat the sickness, you can break the addiction. But maybe like Jim you feel stuck, letting fear, intimidations, your weaknesses convince you to live hiding your gifts, hiding what God put in you. Like that teacher, God has sent me to help you get rid of the wrong mirror. If you'll take that step of faith, you'll discover there's a new mirror. Like Gideon you're a mighty hero. Like James you can leave your mark. What's held you back in the past, is not who you are, there is greatness in you. Now do your part: give God your mirror. When you let his word define who you are, it breaks limitations, frees you from fears, what people think, what didn't work out, you'll step in to who you were created to be.
When my father went to be with the Lord 1999, I had never ministered before. I'd spent 17 years behind the scenes here at Lakewood, doing the television production. I thought that's what I'd do the rest of my life. My father had tried many times to get me to up to speak, but I always told him, "No". I was more quiet, reserved, and I didn't want to get up in front of people. But when he passed I knew I was supposed to step up, I felt it so strongly. But all these thoughts told me, "You're too quiet. You don't have the right personality, the training, the experience. Nobody's going to listen to you". Like Gideon, I could hear God telling me to lead the people, to step into new levels, but I was afraid, intimidated, thinking of all the what-if. What if I do it and fail? What if I don't know what to say? What if nobody likes me? What if the church goes down?
I've learned: you can talk yourself out of your dreams, or you can talk yourself into your dreams. I had to do what I'm asking us to do: I gave God my image. I said, "God I see myself as unqualified, I feel insecure, this doesn't make sense to me, but I'm going to take your mirror and let what you say about me create my image". All through the day, "I am strong in the Lord. I can do all things through Christ. I am surrounded by favor. Goodness and mercy are following me. I'm equipped, empowered, anointed". That played so long, that I started believing what I was saying. Those words created a new image on the inside. God didn't just help me do it, but he exceeded my expectations, taking me where I've never dreamed. Who knows where you'll go if you'll get the right mirror, not see yourself how you feel, how you were raised, what other people say, but how God sees you. Give him your image.
This is what David did. His father overlooked him, left him out in the shepherds fields when Samuel came to anoint one of Jesse's sons as the next king. David could have been insecure, had low self-esteem, "Man, my own father doesn't even believe in me". But David's attitude was, "I've already looked in the right mirror. I know who I am. I'm a giant killer". He may not see it, but that doesn't change it. When he took lunch to his brothers on the battlefield, one of them made fun of him, tried to make him feel small. David could have been offended, got upset, but he said, "No, thanks you don't determine my image. I'm not getting my value from you, my value comes from my Creator. I'm looking in his mirror". When he told king Saul that he wanted to face Goliath, Saul said, "David, don't be ridiculous, you're just a boy". Most people would have been discouraged, talked out of it - not David. He didn't let other people control his image. When Goliath saw how small David was, Goliath started laughing, making fun. David said, "Goliath, what you say doesn't bother me, I've already looked in the right mirror. Your threats, your insults, they have come too late. I know who I am". He slung that rock, Goliath came tumbling down.
What mirror are you looking at today? Are you letting people, your past, what you're up against determine your image? "Well, Joel, this giant is so big, I'm afraid, I've had in disappointments, I can't accomplish my dreams". That's a distorted mirror. That is not who you really are. Get rid of that mirror, and go to God's word, let him define your image. If you will see yourself the way God sees you, it will heal the damaged self images. That's the only thing that's holding some people back, the way they see themselves. I believe and declare: today is a new day. Because you have the right mirror, like Gideon you're about to see greatness come out of you. Like David you're about to defeat giants. Like Jacob you're going to become Israel. Not defined by your mistakes, but a prince with God, in Jesus name. If you receive it, can you say amen? Amen!