“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.” (James 1:22-24)
I admit that I do not like mirrors or photos of myself because I do not like what I see. But since someone needed a picture, I recently had a professional photo session, and I do like those pictures. The salon spent lots of time on my makeup and hair. The photographer was careful to emphasize my “good” side and have me strike poses that would produce the best result. But sometimes I need to look in the mirror to see my tired eyes, hair in need of smoothing, or even the extra pounds I have gained. By looking I am reminded of my need for better physical care and attention.
When we look into Scripture or hear it preached and taught, we are to remember it’s content to apply God’s truths to ourselves. Sometimes we are encouraged and reinforced in what we see, with thankfulness for our conformity to our Lord, with his help. At other times, however, we do not like what we see so we may consciously or unconsciously neglect this area of nonconformity instead of confessing and asking for God’s help to repent. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). We are to reverently work out what God works in us. Our sanctification is a joint effort with the Holy Spirit who infuses us with the wisdom of Christ after Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us in our regeneration (Colossians 2:3; Romans 5:14).
Imagine looking into a mirror to see if some morsel from lunch was stuck on your lip, but being distracted, forgot why you are even looking in the mirror. As you go on your way you might realize that you have forgotten what you saw and feel even more foolish for having done so. How much more foolish are we to ignore what the sermon was about or what we studied this morning. Most afternoons I work at remembering my morning devotions, but I admit that it’s a struggle sometimes. I do it because there is a reward to comparing myself to Scripture: “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 1:25)
Are you willing to work at remembering Scripture, sermons, and devotions to apply God’s truths to yourself, your life, and your priorities?