The Reflecting Word
“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 looks like” (James 1:23-24).
When looking in the mirror, what do I see? Sometimes an abnormally long hair growing on an ear or my nose, “How did that get there? I should have noticed that before it got that long!” Or, “Oh my, that is a piece of parsley stuck on my tooth; how long has that been there?” And then there is a sliding scale of how much time we spend in front of the mirror. For some in the teenage years, they see a stronger, more mature person daily and enjoy getting another look. For others in those years the mirror is a huge challenge because of complexion issues and/or comparative memory of others and pictures of others. Then the day comes when a person may lament when they look into the mirror, “Wow, where did that old person come from?”
Let us apply these thoughts, and other applicable thoughts, to hearing and doing the Word of God. We read in Luke 15:11-32, The Parable of the Loving Father (or Prodigal Son), and we might think, “Oh that older son was loyal and not wasteful like his little brother. He had reason to be ‘angry and refused to go in’ to a celebration for that little brother.” There can be jealousy, frustration, and anger at other people receiving something that we already have. The loving Father assured the older son, “You are always with Me, and all that is Mine is yours” (vs. 31 capitalization is mine for Divinely applying the lesson). Such traits of jealousy, frustration, and anger are like an embarrassing hair or piece of food as our heavenly Father supplies us with life now and forevermore through Jesus Christ.
There are some Christians that seem as if they cannot get enough of the Word of God, Christian music, Christian books, Christian movies, Christian friends, and the like. This is an enjoyable experience, but not everyone has that “honeymoon.” For all Christians, the Word of God will cut as a two-edged sword. The one edge is the Law that reveals characteristics, aspects of the person, “spiritual acne.” We become broken spirited and have a contrite heart into which God reaches to soothe with Jesus and His grace. He clothes that broken, contrite person in His righteousness in Baptism, and feeds them with His true body and blood. God is continually drawing us to Himself through the Word and Sacraments, making us a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17)--remade into the image of God.
The glass mirror will not show us this new creation. The glass mirror shows prideful, boastful images as well as jealous, frustrating, angry, and lamenting images. These are interpreted by the person looking. That view is temporary. That view is tainted by many other factors, thus the prideful do not see their flaws and the downhearted do not see the beauty that God and others see.
The Word of God reveals a new creation. Therefore we hear that Word which convicts us with Law and strengthens us with Gospel. God’s Word and His means of grace are distributed to have us be hearers and doers of the Word.
The Lord be with you,