Some mornings when I get out of bed and see myself in the mirror, the guy in the glass looks pretty rough!
My hair is always totally messed up, and there are little bits of gunk in my eyes. Even though I brushed my teeth just before bed the night before, they don’t look clean. (My breath smells like it’s been hosting an Arab camel parade, but that’s not evident from the mirror.)
Obviously, I’m not alone. Everyone wakes up in the morning and needs to deal with the aftermath of the night.
Today’s verse really has two parts. I’m going to tackle the second part first, and then wrap up with the instructive part of it.
ANYONE WHO LISTENS TO THE WORD BUT DOES NOT DO WHAT IT SAYS IS LIKE SOMEONE WHO LOOKS AT HIS FACE IN A MIRROR AND, AFTER LOOKING AT HIMSELF, GOES AWAY AND IMMEDIATELY FORGETS WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE
We all understand the value of a mirror. The more important the events of the day, the more important the mirror is.
If I’m going out to a local diner to grab a bite of breakfast with my grandson, I’ll take a glance while I’m brushing my teeth and make sure that I’m basically presentable. You know, confirm that the shirt is clean, zipper is up, etc. I’m not going to be overly concerned with whether or not my colors match. (OK, I’ll let you in on a little secret here. I’ve NEVER been good at matching colors. So pretty much every pair of trousers I own for casual wear is black. Makes picking a shirt easy – nothing clashes!!)
But when a meeting with a President or Prime Minister is on the agenda, that is a VERY different matter !!
Then the suit will always been freshly cleaned, and I’m likely to use an iron to press off any small wrinkles. The shirt will be carefully chosen to pull out some subtle element of color from the suit. (And by “carefully chosen” I mean my wife will select it. Like I said, matching colors is not one of my strengths.) Of course my necktie will be coordinated with my pocket square; and both of those will tie in to the shirt’s color. Shoes will be carefully shined. MOST OF ALL, the mirror will play a major role in pretty much every step of the process. While sharing a breakfast with my grandson is a regular and comfortable affair, for me (and probably for most of you) meeting with Presidents, Prime Ministers and Popes is never a casual affair.
It’s incomprehensible that we’d be preparing for something important, notice a problem in the mirror — and then just not deal with it, right? If you had a meeting with the CEO of the company you work for, you’d never see a dark stain on the shirt or top you were putting on — and then just overlook it and walk out the door ! You wouldn’t “forget” what you looked like.
The bible is the Word of God. It is His message to us. And He compares it to a mirror. It doesn’t matter if your read ten chapters a day or if the verse we share each day is the only exposure you have to His word; God intends His word to change you. God’s Word is living and active, and it is designed to have an impact on you, your life and your soul.
As we read His Word, it reflects our character and actions back to us like a mirror. Verses shine His light on our heart, and confirm or convict us. His Word is the ruler by which we measure our growth in Him. And He uses His Word to empower and enact change in us. He is in the process of conforming His children to His image, making us more and more like Him.
We can’t ignore what the mirror reveals. We have to address it. Daily. Don’t look in the mirror and then forget what your face looked like. So, how do we address the flaws we find in the mirror of God’s Word? That brings us back to the first part of the verse.
DO NOT MERELY LISTEN TO THE WORD, AND SO DECEIVE YOURSELVES. DO WHAT IT SAYS.
It can be tempting to think that, just because we read the bible or a daily devotional, we’re gaining some sort of heavenly benefit. That’s a great first step, to be sure. But the beginning is NOT the ending, and the benefit is found in the obedience. You don’t get any real benefit from walking into a grocery store. The benefit is found in actually purchasing meat, fruits, vegetables and the like. You can spend all day walking in and out of grocery stores … and starve to death.
It can also be enticing to think that going to a church would be beneficial. It COULD be, but only if the church is properly using God’s Word as a tool to shape your growth as Christ’s disciple. Merely going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a pizza shop makes you a pepperoni. What MAKES you a Christian is your decision to confess Jesus as your Lord and put your faith in the forgiveness purchased by His resurrection. What makes you a DISCIPLE is constantly dealing with the blemishes and stains revealed by the mirror of His Word.
James tells us not to MERELY LISTEN to the Word of God. Just listening doesn’t do much. Just listening is actually deceiving yourself. It’s like walking into a grocery store but not buying anything.
You THINK that listening to the Word of God is enough; but that’s not the case. The next step is the really important one …
DO WHAT IT SAYS