“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:22-24).
I am a mechanic at heart. I love to work on cars and motorcycles and virtually anything with an internal combustion engine. When on the farm, our winters were spent working on tractors, combines, and other farm implements, making sure that they would be in good repair for the coming season.
Since these pieces of equipment are filled with various types of oil and grease, one is going to get their hands dirty. And all too often, while my hands are covered with grease, I inadvertently rub my cheek or scratch my nose. I am totally unaware of the blemish the oil leaves on my face until Sandy points it out and directs me to a mirror. Looking in the mirror makes the blemish visible to me. Thankfully, sitting not far away is a bar of soap and a washcloth. Add some water to these and the blemish is soon a thing of the past.
In the Old Testament tabernacle, there was a brass basin called a laver. The floor of that basin was made out of the mirrors that some of the women brought out of Egypt during the Exodus. Since the priests spent a good part of their day slaughtering sacrificial animals, their faces became blemished with smatterings of blood during their work. After a sacrifice, the priests would look into the laver now filled with water and see their reflection, a reflection that identified the blemishes on their faces. They would then take a smaller basin and fill it with water from the laver and clean themselves of their defilement.
James compared the Word of God with a mirror. For when one reads the Word of God it identifies those places in one’s life that need to be repented of or submitted unto the Lord. Then the Word leads us to the spiritual soap and water and wash cloth by which the defilement is cleansed. The passage goes on to say that one who is merely a hearer of the Word and not a doer of the Word, is like one who takes a passing glance in the mirror and fails to see their defilement.
I Corinthians 11:31& 32 says, “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by thee Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”
When one comes to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they receive a “once and for all” cleansing by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:12, 10:10). But since we continue to live in this world, we are exposed on a daily basis to things which the Word of God identifies as defilements that stick to our persons like Velcro fasteners. These are dealt with day by day by the washing of the water of God’s Word (Ephesians 5:26). God’s Word is the mirror that identifies the blemishes, it is also the cleansing agent that washes us clean again.