Obey God’s message! Don’t fool yourselves by just listening to it. 23If you hear the message and don’t obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror 24and forget what they look like as soon as they leave. 25But you must never stop looking at the perfect law that sets you free. God will bless you in everything you do, if you listen and obey, and don’t just hear and forget. James 1:22-25 CEV
God has given this verse to me several times this week (from different sources) so I think I should ponder it more closely. Obviously He’s got something for me to learn.
James says that reading a Bible verse that gives us tips on living in a Jesus-like way and then going about our own business without changing our behavior is like looking in a mirror and then forgetting what we look like as soon as we turn away. Sometimes we need to add something to the way we’re living our life: we’re lacking love or unselfishness, we’re not putting feet to our faith or promises to God, we’re slinking back into complacency. In my mind, this is like standing in front of a full-length mirror without any pants, then turning, walking away, and heading out the door to work. The mirror showed there was something missing but I need to act on that revelation and put some pants on for Pete’s sake.
Sometimes there’s something in our heart that God needs to remove and he tells us when we read His Word: a negative attitude, fear, judgmentalism, or faulty thinking. That’s like looking in my compact mirror, seeing a piece of salad stuck right in between my two front teeth but then just putting the compact away and continuing in conversation, smiling at my friend across the table who then has a hard time not staring or snickering. The mirror showed me something that wasn’t supposed to be there, something that flawed my smile and was obvious to other people, even distracting them from really being able to interact with me.
[Little side thought that just popped into my mind: A true friend would tell me, “Hey Mimi, there’s an obnoxious piece of food stuck in your teeth” just as a true friend in Christ will tell me in love, “Hey Mimi, I’m seeing an attitude I know you don’t want to have. Let’s talk and pray together.”]
What good would it be for me to look in the mirror and then go to work without pants?? No good, I’ll tell you. Or look in my little mirror and then not remove the yucky dark green piece of lettuce from my otherwise charming smile?
What good is it for me to read about putting others first if I’m going to keep focusing on myself when I’m done reading? What is the point of reading about and being moved by Jesus’ surrender to the point of death if I’m going to complain or give God attitude when He asks me to submit to His will? Whatever it is? What good is it to memorize verses about loving those who are unlovable and then later join in on some juicy gossip that’s anything but loving?
James is the kind of book I can’t read without feeling convicted somehow. He calls on his fellow believers to act out their faith, to do something with the knowledge the mirror gives us. What troubles me is knowing that whatever we really believe we WILL live out in our behavior consciously or subconsciously. What do my actions really prove? (St. Francis of Assisi once said “Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.”) What do your actions prove?
God, I’m looking in your mirror, your holy and living Word, and I want you to do a full reveal to me (said as I cringe a little). Show me anything I’m missing or anything that needs to be surrendered fully to You so that I’ll be a better disciple, more like Jesus. You can tell me, God. I really do want to know.