“If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (James 1:23-24).
Always respond immediately to what you know to be God’s will for you.
Men, have you ever been at work and touched your face, only to realize that you forgot to shave? Perhaps you were distracted by your wife’s call to breakfast or by one of the kids. Ladies, have you ever been out in public and suddenly realized that you forgot to apply some of your makeup? Those are common occurrences that illustrate what it means to hear God’s Word but fail to respond.
James 1:23 says, “If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror.” “Looks” doesn’t refer to a casual glance but to a careful, cautious, observant stare. This person is taking a good, long look at himself. Hearers of the Word are not necessarily superficial or casual in their approach to Scripture. They can be serious students of the Word. The fact is, some seminary professors or Sunday School teachers are not true believers. Some even write commentaries and other Bible reference works. Your response to the Word—not your depth of study alone—is the issue with God.
Despite the hearer’s lingering look, he failed to respond and the image reflected in the mirror soon faded. That’s reminiscent of Jesus saying, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart” (Matt. 13:19). The Word was sown but it bore no fruit. The man looked into the mirror but he made no corrections.
Perhaps there’s something God’s Word is instructing you to do that you’ve been putting off. If so, delay no longer. Don’t be a forgetful hearer!
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask God to teach you to be more disciplined in responding to the dictates of His Word.
“‘Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns,and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?’” (Matthew 6:26).
Many birds live in northern Galilee, and it’s likely some flew by as Jesus was teaching. As an object lesson, Jesus called attention to the fact that birds do not have intricate and involved processes for acquiring food.
Like every creature, birds receive their life from God. And He provides them with an abundance of food resources and the instinct to find those resources for themselves and their offspring. The Lord asked Job, “Who prepares for the raven its nourishment when its young cry to God?” (Job 38:41). The obvious answer is: God does.
If God is so careful to provide for such relatively insignificant creatures as birds, how much more will He take care of those He created in His own image and who have become His children through faith?
This doesn’t mean Jesus is suggesting that birds do nothing to feed themselves. But they never worry about where their next meal is going to come from. They gather food until they have enough, and then go about whatever other business they may have until time for the next meal.
Use this example of a bird’s worry-free life and adopt the same attitude for yourself.
It really is worth reiterating that birds don’t sit around waiting for their needs to be met. Keep your eye to an open window one morning, and you’ll see just how industrious they are. How does this help you understand Jesus’ words better? In what ways have laziness and other lacks of good character increased your worry quotient?