Ministry Of Mirrors: Part 2
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 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 was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:22-25
Mirrors replace the wallpaper of gym walls so people can check themselves out as their bulging muscles get bigger and their cellulite melts away before their eyes. Okay well that’s the purpose those mirrors serve for some people, but their real purpose inside of fitness facilities is to reflect exercise form to ensure proper movement. When trying out a new exercise or starting out a learned exercise, it is wise to look in the mirror to make sure everything is aligned, especially when adding heavy weights and multiple repetitions into the mix. You gotta make sure you’re doing it right before you hurt yourself. A mirror is good for showing your reflection in this way, but it can’t provide correction.
As explained in the first post on Ministry of Mirrors, if the law is a ministry of death, then the ministry of righteousness is a ministry of life. A person trying to follow the law is spiritually dead and cannot change his ways when he looks in the mirror. The passage above from James says that the “one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres…will be blessed in his doing.” Paul reminds us that it is “for freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1), so the perfect law, the law of liberty, is the person of Christ. When I try and live by the law, I realize I can’t, and so I am dead in the fact that I can do no eternal good on my own.
Jesus, the ministry of righteousness, is the one who can not only fix my form but change my heart when I look into the mirror. He is the one who can not only sustain me enough to exercise in front of a mirror, but give me a desire to exercise because the body is a gift and I am no longer slave to it as I was a slave under the law. I no longer exercise because it’s what I’m supposed to do, but because I can and it brings me joy. Well, most of the time. Sometimes I exercise because if I don’t, my body will turn into a blob, and a blob can’t be of much use to anyone in life.
Don’t Forget Who You Are, Do Good
When James says the person who hears the word and does not do it is like a person who sees his face and then walks away, forgetting what he looks like. He forgets his face, his own identity. If I look in the Word of God and see that it’s telling me that God loves me enough to send his only Son to die on my behalf and I walk away and live the rest of my day in anxiety and anger towards my family, I am deceiving myself. And I do this all too often, especially around sleeping times:
Daughter: “Mom? Mama!? Mommy?!? Kasey!!!”
Me: “Grrr...ughhhh….go back to sleep! I’m reading the Bible!”
I’m supposed to be a daughter of God, but instead I’m treating my own daughter poorly. It is not enough to read the Bible. It is not enough to look in the mirror. We have to not only read the Word of God but be changed by it. We have to ask the Spirit to work in us so we can be a “doer who acts” (James 1:25). We cannot forget who we are, we need to do good. Doing good for others is not just a nice thing, but it is a reminder to ourselves of the good that was done for us. Doing good reinforces Christ’s righteousness in us.
The Word not only shows our sin by the law of death, but gives us life by the righteousness of Christ. By this ministry of life, I can look into the mirror and remember who I am. I will not just look in the mirror and walk away, forgetting what I was like, and what I am like is more than stretch marks and green eyes and long hair.
I will walk away knowing that my identity rests in the grace of Jesus Christ, who lived by the law, died under the ministry of death for my sake, and rose so that I may look in the mirror and be content. I can look into the mirror knowing that I am not my own: I am a daughter of God, a wife to my husband, and a fitness trainer who can not only correct exercise form, but remind clients of their identity when they walk away from the mirror and the scale. I will remind them that we neither have to look in the mirror and be satisfied or obsessed with our reflection. We are free.
By the ministry of the law, we have died to ourselves, but by the ministry of righteousness, we live to Christ. Our identity no longer depends on our reflection but on righteousness.
Do you think about your reflection after you walk away from the mirror?
Do you remember who you are after reading the Bible?
Does doing good for someone else change or reinforce your identity?