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Mirror Image

James 1:23-25
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do. (NIVUK)

God's Word has been likened to many things: seed (Luke 8:11), a cleansing agent (John 15:3), gold and honey (Psalm 19:10) and a sword (Ephesians 6:17). Now James says that it is also like a mirror. The Bible enables us to see a true reflection of ourselves, not our physical appearance, but the desires of our heart and the habits that form our character. It not only shows us where we have fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23), it also enables us to understand how we might please God and enter into the blessings that God wants to give us.

The Roman mirrors were bronze discs with one surface silvered or tinned to produce a reflective surface. They may not have been as good as today's glass-silvered vanity accessories ... and may have needed more careful attention to ensure that the viewer's face was presentable ... but they were adequate for people who wanted to know if they were presentable (1 Corinthians 13:12). The purpose of looking in the mirror is to correct what might not be quite right. Black smudges caused by soot or out-of-control hair can be put right. So, to look in the mirror without any intention of making any changes is silly. Or to see what needs to be done, and then to be distracted away, so that nothing changes, makes mirror-looking a pointless exercise.

Yet some Christians can treat the Bible like that. Their reading may be so cursory that they do not notice anything; or if they do, they have little intention of doing what God says. Some think that God has got a 'good point', but they never get around to taking any action. It is not a problem with their eyes but their hearts (Isaiah 44:18), which have no desire to submit to God and continue to delude themselves that they are acceptable to Him, even when He says that their sin is preventing a proper relationship with Him (Isaiah 59:1-2) On the other hand, other Christians are so eager to know how they can improve their relationship with God, that they will study the Word intently (Acts 17:11); and having found out what God wants them to do, they make the change-process a priority.

Self-delusion is so easy (James 1:22) - just stop reading the Bible and you will never know what is wrong until it is too late. But exploring God's Word demands priority time, concentration and the deliberate exclusion of other activities (however good they may appear to be). However, the rewards of a restored relationship with God are freedom from guilt, freedom to live as God intended, and freedom to anticipate the future without fear. The person who lives in God-given freedom is blessed indeed. So today, reflect on this passage of God's Word and decide what you need to change in order to live as a Jesus-person at work and your home - without guilt or purposelessness or fear.

Prayer 
Dear Lord. Thank You for giving me an objective way of assessing my relationship with you, and seeing if I am 'fit-for-purpose' as a Christian. Help me to give Your Word the priority it deserves, so that I can be the person You have made me to be. For Your glory's sake. Amen
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© Dr Paul Adams

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