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.
As the Lord leads me through the book of James with my family, He is so faithful to share with me new truths of Himself and new (to me) ways to be blessed by His Word.
We have heard often, and have been encouraged by many, including Pastor Chuck Smith not to be just hearers of the word, but doers of the word. This of course is very sound advise, and not something hard to understand – especially someone whom the Holy Spirit has convicted about doing more, or just being more diligent or more effective in what you are doing in the name of the Lord. Being a doer of the word is what James goes on to tell us is living out our faith, as faith without works is dead. But what I have found to be very helpful in allowing me to be more effective in the application of my faith is simply this: Remembering who I am, who Christ is, and where I fit in that equation.
When we look into the mirror, we need to see Jesus. What I mean by that is not that we perfectly reflect Jesus just as He was the perfect image of the Father, hardly possible, and more laughable than anything. But what I do mean is something that I can possibly better explain by sharing a story from my adolescence.
In Jr. High school back in western PA, I began to hang around with the wrong crowd. This group of kids, being a product of the late 70’s and early 80’s were categorized as ‘freaks’. In those days, you were a freak or a jock. Freaks were generalized as the delinquents. Drug takers, trouble makers and just plain “bad”. Jocks were generalized as clean cut, athletic, cheerleader-dating leaders of the community. I was neither, I was a farmer. But because we were relatively poor, I my dress categorized me as a freak, because the jocks looked and dressed a lot nicer than I was able. To make a long story short, one day I got into some trouble and tossed a cafeteria table down a flight of stairs during lunch just to hear the noise. Plus, it made me look ‘cool’ to all the freaks and the guys I was hanging out with at school. Well, I got caught, and in the process of explaining all of this to my Dad while sitting on a freshly warmed behind, my Dad shared this bit of wisdom. He told me, “Act as if I was always standing right beside you, and you’ll never get into trouble again.”
Dad was right. If we act as if the authority in our life is standing with us, if we live our lives looking into the mirror of our faith seeing Jesus as the authority, we will act differently.
And while Dad was so right in concept, the reality is so often different. The very next week, I got suspended from school for getting into a ‘fight’. The reality was that is was just a good friend of mine who put me in an innocent headlock and was giving me a Dutch-rub when the teacher walked in. We both received a three day suspension. BUT, if I had been acting as if my Dad were standing right there with me, and I projected that I lived my life like my Dad was always standing beside me, not only would I not have allowed my friend to give me the Dutch-rub, but my friend would not have done it, because I would have portrayed myself in such a fashion letting everyone know that I live a life bound under the authority of my Dad. In doing so, in my presence you would have seen my Dad. My actions would have been consistent as if my Dad were right there – and everyone would have known that. When you live a pious, humble life, people will see that – and respect that.
Observe your face in the mirror, and I pray you see Jesus working to show Himself to you. I pray that the understanding of who you are in Jesus causes you introspection upon your actions lifestyle so that reflect Jesus as your governing authority. And above all, I pray that when we leave our mirrors, that we always remember the vision of Jesus in our lives. This vision of one that loves you enough to die for you is one that should compel us to be doers of the word, and thereby be blessed.