… 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 observing his natural face in a mirror;
for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
Ancient mirrors were not unlike mirrors of today. The mirror does not lie. In the above verse the idea is of a man looking at the face of his birth, or as one scholar states: the face nature gave him. He sees it all– nose, eyes, whiskers, wrinkles, blemishes…everything! Again, the mirror does not lie.
In James the “mirror” is God’s Word. When we look into the Word, we see the heart of our birth– ourselves as we really are, our very souls. We not only see that we are sinners, but we begin to see the awful depth of our sin. Our conscience gave us a bit of a glimpse, but now we see the complete tainting a… death of sin. Before we saw dimly at best. How thankful we ought to be for the mercy of God and His grace through Jesus Christ and His completed work on the Cross.
Consider this missionary-story from a century ago. Deep in the remote Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, the tribal witchdoctor looked into a foreign strange glass– seeing himself in a mirror for the first time, he saw a hideously painted face. He lurched back at this awful image. Intrigued, yet fearful, he bargained with the missionary for this strange glass (the missionary’s shaving mirror). The missionary initially refused, but the witchdoctor insisted. He was given the mirror. Immediately he threw it down, smashing it in fine shards. He shouted angrily in his language- “I will never see such awful terror again looking at me.”
Obviously, the witchdoctor was only deceiving himself. The Holy Spirit, through James pen, warns us also of deceiving ourselves– “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
Two sobering statements from Oswald Chambers which are helpful– “If I am going to know who Jesus is, I must obey Him. Many of us don’t know Jesus because we haven’t the remotest intention of obeying Him.”
And– “There is a tendency in all of us to appreciate the sayings of Jesus Christ with our intellect while we refuse to do them.”
From Luke 11:28– “And while He (Jesus) was still saying this, a woman in the crowd called out and said, ‘Oh, what a blessing for a woman to have brought you into the world and nursed you!’
Jesus replied, ‘Yes, but a far greater blessing to hear the Word of God and obey it.”
Go for the blessing…Maranatha!