The still, clear waters of a lake or creek is like a mirror and provides us with the following lesson from James 1:21-25.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 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; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
The question so many people ask themselves is, Why do I keep returning to my sin even though I want to be good and pure? I have asked myself that question too. Well, I found the answer in this James passage.
The message James gives us here is that so often when we read the Word of God, we just casually read and hear what it says, without really thinking about it and obeying it. James tells us that when we do that, we are like a man that looks at himself in the mirror and sees what he is like (his sins and all), and then just goes away and forgets what he saw about himself. So he just continues in his sin without making any changes.
But the answer, James says, is to look intently into the mirror of the word of God (“the perfect law of liberty”) and then obey what God tells us. Yes, the Word of God is like a mirror. But not like any mirror we have ever seen. This mirror will show you what you are really like—including your sins. Then, if you “continue in it,” that is, if you keep gazing into this mirror, which is the living Word of God, it will show you how to change, how to be pure.
But the next step is mine: I must obey what God is telling me. James, in verses 216-27, gives us three examples of works we can do.
- Control my tongue
- Care for others in need
- Refuse worldliness
As I thought about this passage, and about my own life, I came to this conclusion: I don’t look long enough and intently enough into the mirror of the Word of God.
The “magic mirror,” as Charles R. Erdman has called it, will show you…
- Your sinful self.
- God and His righteousness and what He wants you to do.
- What you can be like if you obey Him. God promises blessing for all who obey Him (“this one will be blessed in what he does”).
A quick look into the mirror of God’s Word will not show me much of anything. I will only see a glance of myself and a glance of God. A quick glance into the mirror, without meditation, will cause me to quickly forget—to forget my sinful condition, and to forget God. I must make it a habit to daily meditate on key passages of the word of God, and then to commit myself to obey what He is telling me.