The alarm goes off at 5AM and I stumble to the bathroom, turn on the light.
My face jumps out at me from the mirror: blotched and bleary, gray circles, hair every which way. I look as bad as I feel!
I shut my eyes, grab a washcloth, and start scrubbing: only when I’ve dried my face and brushed my hair do I look back in the mirror, hoping that other face is gone.
I always look back in the mirror. What would happen if I just walked out like that, grabbed my purse, and went out to teach or do my shopping? I can imagine the reaction. “Doesn’t she know what she looks like?” they would whisper behind my back. “Doesn’t she have a mirror??”
This is what St. James is talking about when he says “If any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:23-24).
In other words, when I read something in the Bible that points out a need in my life and then do nothing about it, it’s like looking in the mirror, seeing a huge blemish on my face … and leaving it there.
James goes on in verse 25:
“But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty [the Bible], and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.”
“Persevering” is what I do in the mirror after I get over the shock of that first sight: I do something about the state of my face.
Perseverance Makes Perfect
Unfortunately, a mirror can’t tell me how to fix what I see in it. But the mirror of God’s word holds up to my face the image of Christ. It gives me a standard so I can see where I need to make changes.
James says to “persevere” in the Word, we must be “a doer that acts.” In other words, don’t just read your Bible, smile, and move on. You might as well not read it at all.
- Look into it deeply.
- Hold it up against your life, and ask the Lord how it applies to you.
- When you see where you fail to measure up, do something about it.
And bit by bit, you’ll be conformed to the image of Christ.
May you be blessed in your doing!
You May Also Like:
Becoming A Living Image of Christ [Fr. Josh Johnson video]
Struggling to Hear God’s Voice? [CFRs video]
What Helped Us Discern God’s Will [Jackie & Bobby video]
Sarah Christmyer is co-developer with Jeff Cavins of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible study system. She is author or co-author of a number of the studies. Sarah has thirty years of experience leading and teaching Bible studies. She helped launch Catholic Scripture Study and is co-author of “Genesis Part I: God and His Creation” and “Genesis Part II: God and His Family,” published by Emmaus Road. Raised in a strong evangelical family, she was received into the Catholic Church in 1992. Sarah also writes at comeintotheword.com.
This article was first published on The Great Adventure Blog, the Ascension Blog’s former home, on October 8, 2014. The Great Adventure Blog has been discontinued, but you can still learn about The Great Adventure Bible studies here.
Photo by Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash
Thank you Sarah I needed that reminder, little by little, bit by bit we’re getting there. Sometimes we fail to deal with the little things just because they are the little things, but we one day look into the mirror of God’s word and see how they have grown. The little things though are the easiest to deal with, a speck rather than a plank, therefore in the same way we look into the mirror frequently so it should be with God’s word, and then when we get the response to our prayer do something about it. (Please note the use of the royal ‘we’)
Nice reflection, Sarah, first thing in the morning as I begin morning prayer! I love St. James’ letter – so many nuggets to chew on ( if my tongue can just get out of the way)!
Hi Fisher! I love the little “double meaning” there!!
Nice to reconnect! Hope you are well.
🙂 Ha Ha Fisher You need only to read the next verse to find out what to do with your tongue
James 1: 26
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.
Very astute, Barbara Ann! Exactly!
Yes, and for more on the tongue, check out James Chapter 3.
“Being a doer of God’s Word” is such a beautiful phrase that epitomizes Our Savior, Jesus Christ’s message to the world. The mirror image that you speak about in your narrative sounds just like me some mornings. Sometimes I think that the outside beauty is more important than the inside when presenting yourself at work each day. The mirror that we can hold up to see our inner beauty and desire to be with God, Our Father definitely seems to be far more important than the public image mirror that has been a priority in my life.
After reading your narrative, I understood that if I use that “inner mirror” my outside beauty will shine even more! Thank you for the profound message. The Holy Spirit was with you when you wrote this! May God bless you, Sarah.
Oh, if only we could see ourselves as God sees us! He sees the “doer” inside of us… even when we don’t see her (or him).
I think vwhat I love about the Scriptures is, you can read them every single day for the rest of your life, and there’s always “something new” waiting to surprise you… “I never noticed that before!” or “Wow, the timing is perfect for that passage!” If we look closely at what we’re reading, we’ll notice that His Word is an instruction manual… we become doers when we put what we read into practice…
In today’s Gospel, we have a perfect example. The disciples asked Jesus “teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1-4). A few years ago, every time I was in church and recited the Lord’s Prayer, I stumbled over “as we forgive those who trespass against us”. I stumbled because there was somebody on the other side of the church that I found very hard to forgive. But I took the words to heart and eventually was able to DO what Jesus spoke of…I forgave…
And (as Sarah assures us) bit by bit, I’m (hopefully) being conformed to the image of Christ…
I have never liked mirrors (or photographs for that matter) I have no full length mirrors in my house. I have only 3 other mirrors, the usual medicine cabinet mirror which is covered with sticky notes reminding me of the things I need to do (perhaps this is deliberate) . Then there is the 6×6 inch Mirror that resides in my top drawer, taken out only when necessary to check for medical issues. Last is the most used mirror in my compact, it can only focus on a small part of me for repair.
St. Clare, in one of her letters to Bl. Agnes of Prague, begs her to look deeply into the mirror that is Christ. She goes on to explain that by looking at Christ in His mysteries e.g. poverty, Passion, kindness to others, we can begin to imitate our Ideal and become more Christlike.
This reflection is very pertinent on different aspects in my life. Firstly when God helps me to see my reflection clearly, He seems to just show those blemishes that need to be considered and resolved, and then gently guides, supports and helps me progress. There is the sense that I walked 3 or 4 steps forwards and one step backwards, so there is positivity and growth.
At work, if a blemish is identified, the single pimple or birth mark, is treated as a major rash that outweighs above and beyond everything. In the mirror there is a leper who is told to go heal yourself and undergo plastic surgery. It gets confusing it is a birth mark that can only be concealed a little and that the proposed treatment causes a rash. I am always grateful that when this happens, God, in His mercy, tenderly applies the right treatment to heal, strengthen and guide safely along the right path. Throughout life, I am unable to be what others think I should be, however, with God, I am moving towards, and have the hope of being the person He wants, and knows I can be. And the latter, is what I want simply because there is genuine tender love and understanding and that any discomfort is only what is necessary (no more and no less).
The Bible says there is only one way to Heaven
Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”(John 14:6)
Good works cannot save you.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Trust Jesus Christ today! Here’s what you must do:
Admit you are a sinner.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”(Romans 5:12)
“If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”(1 John 1:10)
Be willing to turn from sin (repent).
Jesus said: “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”(Luke 13:5)
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30)
Believe that Jesus Christ died for you, was buried, and rose from the dead.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners. Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
Through prayer, invite Jesus into your life to become your personal Saviour.
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10)
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
If you have received Jesus Christ as your Saviour, as a Christian you should:
Read your Bible every day to get to know Christ better.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”(2 Timothy 2:15)
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalms 119:105)
Talk to God in prayer every day.
“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”(Matthew 21:22)
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”(Philippians 4:6)
Be baptized, worship, fellowship, and serve with Peter & Natalie @ our Bible Fellowship where Christ is preached and the Bible is the final authority.