We all create carefully crafted self-images. Perception shapes perspective, and personal perspective morphs into virtual reality. Mirrors reveal projections rather than reflections.
So we view ourselves as decent people, devoted children, faithful spouses, and loving parents. As a people of faith, we embody our religion, serving graciously and giving generously.
Even if we act contrary to our cultivated self-image, we dismiss these aberrations of the norm with relished rationalizations. The human Fall accounts for our lesser share of foibles and follies; but compared to others, we’re really not THAT bad.
We luxuriate in the myth that good character leads to appropriate action. After all, Jesus himself said that a tree reveals its inner nature by the fruit that is borne.
But what if our actions actually form our character, and what we DO trumps what we THINK? Looking back over the past day, perhaps my character is not REVEALED but DEFINED by my latest thought, word, or deed.
Then our carefully crafted self-images scatter like fragments of a shattered mirror.
The New Testament book of James preaches a practical Christianity. The author wrote:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22-25)
What we do determines who we are. Who we are determines what we do.