THE MIRROR'S IMAGE
James 1:22-25 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 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. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
A mirror is a smooth surface that reflects the image of objects or persons that are in front of it. It can be made of polished metal, or, in the translation used for this text, glass. To use an old expression, a mirror is a "looking glass." Disregarding any imperfections in the mirror, the image seen is a perfect likeness, or representation of what is before it. In the lesson text, James uses the analogy of comparing the mirror with the word of God. We look into both. From a mirror we see our physical reflections, and from the word of God we see our spiritual reflections.
From a physical standpoint, we often observe ourselves in a mirror. We see our physical appearance as others see us. We note all scars, blemishes, and defects. While observing them, we want to remove, remedy, or cover up the imperfections seen in the mirror, and enhance our physical atributes. However, when we turn away from the mirror, we soon forget what we look like, and the desire no longer exists to disprove, or improve, our physical appearance.
From a spiritual standpoint, this person, James says, is like one that is a hearer of God's word, but not a doer. While reading God's word, or attending worship services, this person sees his or her spiritual imperfections and shortcomings. At that moment they have the desire to cure their spiritual blemishes and do God's will. However, when they close their bible or leave the worship service, they soon forget their spiritual needs, and fail to see the need to repent, and amend their lives to serve the will of God.
The perfect law of liberty is God's law - it is the gospel - the good news. To the Christian, it is the New Testament that reveals the new covenant established through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is the perfect mirror for us to look into, and examine the condition of our souls. It reveals our spiritual imperfections. It tells us of our obligations to God, and shows us the perfect example by which we should pattern our lives here on earth. It tells us about the eternal punishment awaiting transgressors of God's law, but it also assures us of the heavenly reward promised to those that are obedient. It liberates us from the old covenant which was a ceremonial law, said to be a yoke of bondage. It also frees us from the worldly power of Satan, and its accompaning guilt of sin. It contains God's plan of salvation which frees us from spiritual punishment and eternal death. Being perfect, there is no need to add to or to subtract from God's law.
God's law of liberty is indeed perfect. We should all accept, and embrace, it as it is described by David. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb (Psalm 19:7-10).
In this lesson, comparing the mirror to God's word, James makes this important distinction. The only purpose of a mirror is to show us our true physical appearance. It does not tell us how to perfect it. God's word not only shows us the image of our spiritual appearance, but it also tells us exactly what we must do to make it perfect. It shows us what we are, what we should be, and how to attain it. Not only are we to be hearers, but we are also to be doers of God's word. About this perfect law of liberty, James says we are to continue therein. We are not to turn away from it as we do a mirror. Rather we are to continually search for, and recognize, the opportunities to do what we have read and heard from God's word. If we think only hearing God's word is sufficient, we are deceiving ourselves. Don't be a forgetful hearer, but continue in God's word by being a doer of the work. It is this person that God says shall be blessed in his deed. God's word is the mirror of the soul. Be obedient. We need to make a good reflection for the world to see!