For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. James 1:23-24
A couple of days ago, I took a good look in the mirror, and not in the metaphorical way. I stood in the hallway bathroom and stared into my own face. This is not something I have a habit of doing, especially during quarantine. I have just assumed that I look like a 1990s treasure troll. I haven’t combed my hair in weeks, and I have a few extra pounds around my mid-section. The only thing missing is a little gem.
Anyway, for some odd reason, I found myself staring into my own eyes. The freckles were exactly where I remember them being. My eyebrows and hairline were wonky, just as I expected them to be, but there was something off. There was a small little mole I had never noticed before. At first, I thought it was just a speck of something on my face, but as I leaned in close, I realized it was part of my face. Honestly, I was concerned. So I went to my husband so he could examine it.
I asked about the mole. He didn’t hesitate. “You mean the cluster of moles that are under your eye?” They’ve always been there. There isn’t one. There are three.
I went to look in the mirror again. He was right. That’s when I realized that he looks at my face much more than I do. He is more familiar face than I am. I might look at a mirror once or twice a day. But the people I live with see it every time I walk in the room.
Of course, he sees things I don’t. He has a better vantage point.
This is the difference between hearing and doing.
Many Christian scholars think that the author of this epistle was James, the brother of Jesus, a man who knew Jesus intimately. If this is the case, imagine how well he knew the face of the one we claim as Savior. They may have even had similar features. He saw and heard the Living Word on a regular basis. James, the Lord’s brother, was not a follower of Jesus while he was living. He knew who Jesus was. But he didn’t know the LORD. James had been a hearer. He didn’t become a doer until after the resurrection. I don’t think anybody could paint a clearer picture of the great cost of being a hearer of the word only.
James writes that hearing the word is like looking into a mirror, but living the word is where the true blessing lies. Many more of us are spending way too much time in our mirrors. We hear sermon after sermon. We spend hours listening to prayers and devotions. But if we aren’t doing what it says, we are missing the entire point.
Hearing is an important first step. Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing. But we can’t stop there.
At some point, you ought to be ready go out into the world, and DO something!