Looking in the Mirror of God’s Word

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. James 1:23‑24 (NLT)

Let’s think about what James is saying here. He says you’re glancing at something. What is it? It’s the word of God. For them back in their day, they did not have as ready access to the written word as we do today. James emphasizes listening, but the idea is “to discover something through direct observation, with the implication of also thinking about it.” *

So here’s some key points to consider for your every day walk of faith.

  • Are you looking, discovering things in Bible? James speaking to people who are regularly hearing, reading or listening to the Bible.
  • What do you see? The point of looking at the image of yourself in a mirror is to perhaps correct our appearance, straighten your hair, etc. In this case, the correction has to do with becoming more like Jesus.
  • The “walking away,” as James puts it, has to do with our daily lives, and what I find is that it’s good for us to constantly go back and remind ourselves of what Jesus has called us to be.

God’s goal for us in to be like Jesus and James is suggesting that we see a picture of the type of people that God wants us to be by “glancing” at the Word of God. Here’s a section of the book of Colossians as an example: “You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God. 11 In the new life there is no difference between Greeks and Jews, those who are circumcised and those who are not circumcised, or people who are foreigners, or Scythians. There is no difference between slaves and free people. But Christ is in all believers, and Christ is all that is important. 12 God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So you should always clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:10‑12 (NCV)

Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 281). New York: United Bible Societies.