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]
Every morning as I get ready for work I find myself brushing my teeth and glancing in the mirror. The mirror reflects what I look like at that moment. It is the truth. It is real. There is no façade, no clouded view, no distortion. But when I leave the bathroom and can no longer see that mirror image, the mirror is useless to me. It means nothing. My appearance will change throughout the day. Hair will stick up. I might get a scratch from my dogs. One never knows. But the mirror image is useless.
In James we read about self-deception. People hear the word of God and it goes in one ear and then out the other. The Bible says that it’s like someone who looks in the mirror and walks away and doesn’t remember what they look like. What the passage is referencing is how the mirror is useless when we walk away. It means nothing. When people hear the Word of God and walk away without acting upon it, it’s like that useless mirror. It is useless. They are deceived. The word is irrelevant in their opinion and ignored.
James spent the time speaking about self-deception because it is something we all fall prey to if we just take the Word of God and nibble on it but do nothing else. It gets us nowhere. It’s like pushing the gas pedal on a car that has a dead battery. There is no action. When you truly hear the Word of God, you act. You embrace. You love. You live the Truth.
“Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.” – James 1:22-24 [MSG]
There are moments in life when we recognize what is right but we do not always do what we should in response. We like to call it our sin nature. In Isaiah 42, it spoke of those who understood what was right but they did nothing. The people heard what they were to do, but they did not act.
James said we are to be doers of the word. True faith requires action. The people Isaiah was referring to knew what was right but did not act on it. We do the same thing today. It is easier to refuse to act. It is easier to ignore. It is easier to accept what the world accepts.
Today let us challenge ourselves to listen. Let us recognize what is right and act. Let us stand firm in Christ. Knowing and refusing to act is worse than not knowing at all.
“You see and recognize what is right but refuse to act on it. You hear with your ears, but you don’t really listen.” – Isaiah 42:20 [NLT]
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]