You have likely glanced in the mirror recently. Each morning I catch a few glances in the mirror while getting ready to start the day. But then I walk away and the mirror does not follow. As you go along through your day, you are not continuously looking at yourself. You cannot remember all of the fine details that you saw earlier in the day.
When we read in James about the mirror glances, it is compared to people listening to God’s Word and then walking away as if it was not even heard. This letter speaks about the need to have God’s Word written on your heart so that you can remember what you have read and heard. It also reminds us that we simply cannot be hearers of the Word, but we must also be doers on the Word. If you live out the Word (instead of the glance and then fading away), the Word is not only in your heart but demonstrated for others to get a glance too.
Today, have you read the Word? Have you taken some time to sit down and read a passage, a verse, a chapter of the Bible? Have you glanced and went back to your day, or have you taken what you have read and put it to memory? If people would look at your day, would they see God’s Word being lived out or are you taking mirror glances?
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” – James 1:22-25 [NLT]
“They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.” – Nehemiah 8:8 [NIV]
I love this scene. They were gathered together reading God’s Word, and there were actually people there trying to make sure that the people understood what was being read to them. Some people cannot read. Some people cannot understand what they read. They may pronounce the words properly. They may be able to read everything on the page, but they might not understand what they just read. The comprehension is important. The NLT says “clearly explained the meaning” and “helping the people understand each passage.” Each passage. I just love this.
It is important for us to understand what we read, whether it is a letter from our insurance provider, our bank statements, an article in the newspaper, a work memo… and it is crucial that we understand what the Bible says. We can read it every day, but we need to be able to understand it to actually apply it.
If you notice in Nehemiah 8, first they read the Law, then they interpret the Law, and then they apply the Law. This is what Bible reading is all about. This is exactly how we are to read our Bibles. First we read His word, then we see what God has to say to us in the context of the passage, and then we then apply it to our lives—we do what He says. Read – Understand – Apply! That’s why it is important that we understand. If you don’t understand, don’t hide and pretend; seek out some godly assistance, purchase a reputable Bible commentary, and pray about it. Read – Understand – Apply!
There they were standing around this big hole while one person was doing work on the lines below. I often wonder why so many people are needed for some of the roadwork jobs. There’s one man needed to do the digging. There’s another person needed to ensure no one drives or walks into the hole, because it has been proven that orange cones sadly aren’t enough. There’s the man in the hole doing the hardest job. Then there are two or more people standing by the hole as spectators. They aren’t the hole diggers, the line fixers, or the hole watchers. What exactly do they do?
In my town they are doing a lot of road work lately. I keep seeing this same thing over and over again. It reminds me of the Church. God’s Word tells us that there are many parts to one body. We each have our own part to play with the Great Commission. Some people are ministers, some are teachers. Some people are encouragers, others are called to the mission field abroad. Some people are prayer warriors. Other people are choir members. The list continues. One thing not on the list is a spectator.
Nowhere does God’s Word tell us to stand around and watch life. Nowhere are we told to not do anything. We are told to feed the hungry, clothe the naked. We are told to share the message of Christ. We are told to encourage one another, bear each other’s burdens. We are to be “doers of the word” (James 1:22). Being doers does not mean simply within the walls of the church. From all this, we know that we have never been called to be spectators. To die for Christ is to live intentionally. To live intentionally means there is no standing around.
“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?”
– James 2:14 [NLT]