Take a Good Look!
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
J. B. Phillips was a British scholar who paraphrased the New Testament. Because of his nationality, he occasionally threw new light on a passage through his use of the British explanation of terms.
One example is found in his interpretation of Romans 3:20. In England, what Americans call a ruler was known as a straightedge; when Phillips paraphrased the passage "For through the Law comes the knowledge of sin," he wrote, "Indeed it is the straightedge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are."
I can show you crooked . . . have you ever tried to hang striped wallpaper? You know very well that it's only when you come to a corner, a door, or a window that you suddenly realize how crooked the wallpaper is. Stay away from stripes—they will wreck your marriage!
The straightedge for unbelievers is the Law, for by it, Paul says in Romans, they are condemned. But the straightedge for believers is the Word of God.
In His Word, God reveals to us how we should live and what He desires of us in our homes, our churches, our schools; on the ball field and golf course; at work and play. The Bible is the ruler by which a Christian measures his life, and the rule by which we should live.
This is what God's Word does for us. It not only shows us when we're doing things all wrong, but it also encourages us in knowing how to make the corrections.
In light of this, James describes God's Word as a mirror. While a mirror can, with absolute precision, reveal the dirt on your face, it can't wash it off. It can show that you need to shave your stubble, comb your hair, or brush your teeth, but it can't shave, comb, or brush anything. You have to do that.
As foolish as it would be for a man to look in the mirror and then forget what he looked like, so it would be for you and me to look into God's Word and forget what it says. The truth is, our response to the Bible is a good indication of the condition of our heart. Are you looking at yourself in the mirror of God's Word? Are you praying that God will change you into His image?
Don't be discouraged. We are all works in progress . . . just keep changing. Being a doer of the Word is evidence of true conformity; behaving in the manner of true believers is evidence of growth in Christ. Look again . . . you can become the mirror-image of our Savior.
Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to help you respond immediately to whatever His Spirit has challenged you to be as you've read this page. What needs brushing up? What needs cleaning up? Don't walk away—don't wait another moment.
Extra Refreshment: Read several sections of Psalm 119 and notice how the Word of God impacts the way we think, feel, and respond.