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; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
With the advent of Disney’s new streaming service, I’ve been going through some of the old animated classics with my guys. The other day, as we were watching Snow White, I was reminded of one delicious piece of irony that I had picked up on when I watched in the first time, oh so many years ago.
If you remember the movie, you know that the wicked queen is informed by her magic mirror that she is no longer the most beautiful woman in the kingdom, that she has, in fact, been superseded in the looks department by none other than her step-daughter, Snow White. What are the odds?
The scene I’m referring to is where she is in her dungeon, preparing the magic disguise that will enable her to trick Snow White into eating the poison apple. The potion she concocts is extremely effective, turning the once-elegant queen into a cackling hag.
Before heading out on her murderous mission, she raises the apple skyward and croaks triumphantly “Now I’ll be the fairest in the land!”
That kind of disconnect is what James is talking about in these two verses. Remember that in the previous verse he takes up the subject of a person who hears the Word, but does not put it into practice. That man, says James, is deceiving himself.
Now he gives us an illustration. Picture someone…perhaps someone you know well…you, for example…getting up and shuffling to the mirror. There you are confronted with the ugly truth: your hair is disheveled, you need a shave, something must be done about those nose hairs…in short, there is work to be done before you head out for the day. (For the ladies reading this, substitute makeup for the shave…)
Now imagine looking at that mess, shrugging, saying “It’s all good”, and leaving for work. The mirror told you the truth, and you did nothing about it. You’re delusional…perhaps not “wicked witch” delusional, but close.
In case there is any doubt, in James’ analogy the Word of God is the mirror. It tells us the (often ugly) truth about ourselves, and gives us a blueprint for transformation.
So when you sit in church on Sunday, which you open your Bible for daily devotions, when you listen to those sermons on YouTube, it is essential that you ask yourself “What exactly does God’s Word want me to do here?”
Then go and do it.
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