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.
So, I’m a girl. I have two mirrors in my bedroom—a full-length one hanging on the wall between my closet door and my dresser and a small hand-held one on top of the dresser. Each sees its fair share of use, but to different degrees depending on the occasion. When I’m getting ready to go to work, the mirror barely gets a glance. I know there’s nothing to see. I’m wearing the same work uniform as always, including a hat that makes it unnecessary to deal with my hair. Getting ready at five-thirty in the morning makes me not feel like bothering with makeup, so other than a quick glance in the mirror out of habit I don’t use it. When I get ready for anything other than work, my friend the mirror gets a little more attention. I may try on a couple of different outfits and see how they look in the mirror. I’ll spend a few minutes of quality time up close and personal with the mirror while I do my makeup and hair. I’ll double-check how it all looks before I go out. Then there are the special occasions. A few weeks ago I was a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding. When I got ready for that, my mirror and I got spend a lot of time together. We worked together for a good long while to get my hair and makeup perfect, checking and double-checking for any little imperfection. We visited every few minutes from the time I got ready until I left to make sure that everything was still perfect. My mirror got a lot of use.
No matter how much time I spend on it, I always come to my mirrors with the same question: am I what I should be for the occasion at hand? Sometimes I like the answer the mirror gives me, and sometimes I don’t. I always pay attention though, and if I don’t like the mirror’s answer I stop right then and there and do everything I can to fix whatever I think the problem is. But what if I didn’t? What if instead I glanced in the mirror, or even took a good long look, and then walked away having no idea what I had seen? Wouldn’t I seem rather foolish?
Then again, what I went to church every Sunday and dutifully read a chapter out of my Bible every morning, but nothing in my life ever changed? Hearing the Word of God is easy. It’s as easy as turning on the Christian radio station on the way to work in the morning. It’s as easy as taking three minutes to read the next chapter and checking it off the list. It’s as easy as going to church on Sunday and singing songs and talking to nice people and listening to a sermon. And it really doesn’t do much good. Not if hearing is all we do. If you passively hear something, you probably don’t remember it much better than the lyrics to the song playing in the grocery store last time you were there. Instead, we need to listen—to hear with the intention of doing. If I look in the mirror and don’t act on what I see, looking didn’t change the problem. If I read the Bible and don’t act on what I learn, it doesn’t change my life.
Asking the mirror hanging on my wall if I am what I should be may save a few awkward moments. Asking the mirror of God’s Word if I am what I should be is a whole different matter. Because, in everything that really matters, the Word is the only thing that can answer my question accurately. I can examine myself all I want, or ask others what they think I should change, or read all the self-improvement books in the world, but if I don’t have the measuring stick of the Bible to compare my progress to, I have no idea where I’m really at. I need to look in that mirror to see how I’m doing. And compared to the mirror on my wall, the Word is a magic mirror—not only does it show my flaws, but it provides everything necessary to right them.