James 1:23-24—“Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was.”
I think I like this translation even better than “immediately forgets what he looks like”. James is speaking very practically and not hypothetically so I realize this is probably not exactly how James meant it. With that disclaimer, I think this is still accurate.
When we look into a mirror, we are not just looking for the physical traits—is my shirt wrinkly, my hair brushed. We are also really looking at the kind of image or persona we want to convey.
Professional, clean cut, confident.
Tough guy with the unshaven look and muscle shirt.
How we look also says something about the kind of man we want to be and the message we want to convey to the people we meet.
In this sense, when James says we are looking in the mirror, we are supposed to be putting on the persona of the person of faith. But if this persona stays in the mirror and does not exist anywhere but in the mirror—in other words does not go with us into our life as defined by our actions, then our faith is no more real and tangible than the man in the mirror.
Why bother putting on the costume of faith and spend time trying to make things look right if as soon as you step away from the mirror—that costume and appearance you don’t try to live?
It’s like having a part in a play—say, you are Quasimodo—the Hunchback of Notre Dame. You spend weeks on your costume, over an hour on your makeup. You’re supposed to walk with a limp, bent over at the waist. You’re supposed to speak with a heavy lisp which you’ve practiced since you got the part. Then on the night of your first performance, you leave your dressing room with all of the costume in place, but forget to act the part on stage--no limp, no lisp, no hunched back or bend at the waist. The costume does little at that point to convince the audience that you actually are Quasimodo
Here’s another level that is amazing:
2 Corinthians 3:18—“We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory (progressive glorification); this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. (from the Spirit of the Lord).
We are supposed to be in the process of transformation—from looking like ourselves to looking like Jesus. We are to Reflect Him. In our mirror, our reflection is to look more and more like Jesus.
So do you look in the mirror and see Jesus at all?
Do you look in the mirror, see Jesus, then walk away and forget who He is? Is that even possible?
In your mirror, you need to see more of Jesus and not forget that He is who the world is supposed to see everywhere we go. Our image, our reputation is not nearly as important as His. Our lives not only reflect on our reputation but His.
Who do you see in your mirror? Are you putting on Christ even more than a clean shirt? Have you forgotten what kind of man He was… or do you remember and so live in such a way that changes your life and impacts the world?