“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.”
James 1:23-24 ESV
A mirror is nothing but truth.
Even if the world’s best artist drew a picture of you, something would be inaccurate. You’d say, “Oh, no, my nose isn’t that big. My ears aren’t that wide and my eyes aren’t that close together. It looks like a Volkswagen. It doesn’t look like me.”
James 1:23-24 says, “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.”
You can’t argue with a mirror. It is what it is. But in the first century, most mirrors were metal surfaces hammered into as fine a shine as possible. They produced only dull reflections. You got a decent idea of how you looked, but it was nothing like our glass mirrors today. It was easy to walk away with an imperfect picture of your face.
In the same way, a person who listens to truth but doesn’t do truth loses what he looks like as a Christ-follower. James says we’re hearers rather than doers of the Word when we live as if we go to a hazy metal mirror, run our hands through our messy hair a few times, and take off into an unkempt day. We forget what we look like, and the results are ugly.
Thankfully, James doesn’t mince words. He offers a blunt, practical answer in the next verse: “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” (v. 25).
The answer is to be a disciple who “looks into” the perfect law of liberty, God’s Word, and then acts in accordance. That means the believer looks into Scripture as though it’s a mirror and says, “God, show me what needs to change. I’m all yours.”
When we look at Scripture that way, not forgetting what we have heard but doing it, we honor God. We tell him we value nothing more than his shaping presence in our lives.
Scripture will stick a mirror in a believer’s face as God says in a loving way, “I love you, but this is you. This is what we need to talk about and change.”
When we answer, “Lord, you showed me something. I looked into your mirror and I saw it. I really need to work on that,” we take that all-important initial step toward becoming doers of the Word.
As you hold up the mirror of God’s Word to your life, what is God saying to you about your walk with him right now? Do you sense God leading you to any changes he would like you to make?
Is there anything in your life right now where you are being more of a hearer of the Word than a doer? What is the one step you can take today to become a doer of God’s Word in that particular circumstance?