I stand in front of it every morning. It’s an important tool to make sure the part in my hair is straight (mostly), that I don’t shred my face shaving (usually), and that the hair growing out of my ears isn’t too bushy (normally). But it’s not just because I stand in front of it that it benefits me. It’s because I pause long enough to look at myself in it. To see and straighten the crooked part, to watch carefully the blade as it scrapes over my skin, to take action when the hair that was once on top of my head tries to escape out the sides. It’s my mirror . . . and I’m thankful for it.
But it would do me no good if I had it in front of me but didn’t take notice of what it revealed to me. If I just quickly glanced in it but walked away doing nothing and forgetting what I saw.
It’s my mirror. And, this morning, it’s James’ object lesson.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
(James 1:22-25 ESV)
If there are three words that could be used to summarize the letter James wrote, they might be “Keeping It Real!” Practical advice being served up for those saved by grace apart from good works that they might live in grace for good works. Redeemed and regenerated through the finished work of the cross that they might walk in a manner reflective of the power of the cross. Sealed by the Spirit that they might walk in the Spirit thus bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Keeping it real . . . that’s what James is talking about.
And an important provision for living out the kingdom while still in the suburbs, for being so heavenly minded that we can’t help but be of earthly good, is the word of God. James refers to it as the perfect law. As the law of liberty, setting us free from the bonds of sin, self, and the seduction of the world. Freeing us to pursue righteousness; to live for others; and to say no to the ways of a culture tangled in darkness.
But like a mirror, even if we place ourselves before the Word on a regular basis, if we don’t look into it, if we don’t take note of what it reveals, if we merely and mindlessly interact with it and then walk away, it does us no good. Or, as James says, if we’re hearing it only but not doing it, then we’re kidding ourselves about being followers of Christ.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m all about Bible reading plans. They know I love to be engaged in Bible studies. But I’m reminded this morning that daily readings and group considerations of the Scripture have no benefit if I’m not really looking in the mirror.
If I’m just engaging with facts that I already know . . .or thinking of truths that someone else should be taking to heart . . . or just putting in time thinking that the study of the word is an end in itself and not a means towards something else . . . then I’m that guy who gets in front of the mirror but doesn’t look at what it reveals about him. Who walks way forgetting, or never really knowing in the first place, what he looks like. And so his mirror, his Bible, really does him no good and he’s just fooling himself.
Instead, when I open the Word, I should be reading through it intently, meditating upon it purposefully, gazing into it inquisitively, expecting that which is God-breathed to reflect something of who I am, or who I am called to be, and to take action as needed. To persevere, says the ESV, being aware of what I’ve seen in the mirror, determining, by His grace and through the Spirit’s power, to respond accordingly and take action as necessary. To be a doer of the Word, and not a hearer only.
Thanking God this morning for my Mirror. And for the One who has provided it–that I might fix the crooked part, avoid being cut by the sharp edge, and deal with the reoccurring demons of lobe-covering.
Now, I just need to gaze into it, see my reality reflected by it, and act upon it.
By His grace. For His glory.