In which looking means more than looking

by Craig on February 8, 2011

And so, many of you know I just came back from Blissdom.

It was in this hotel the size of 20 Shopping malls.

Seriously it had this INSIDE of it…

Book of James, James 1:23, Bible study

and this…

and this…

all at the center – and then it was way bigger outside of the center.

It. Was. Big.


in my hotel room there was this thing in the bathroom. It was a little hing-y mirror that came out of the wall – and it magnified!

I know, you women use these all the time.

But this was like a little miracle to me.

First of all…

the pores!

My goodness!

The size of Texas!

But it wasn’t all bad.

I noticed  my eyes have a million different hues of blue and gray – that was kind of awesome.

And the trimming – to make sure I didn’t look atrocious – it was all easier because I could move and rotate this mirror – and make it reflect off of the big mirror.

I could see stuff…

I trimmed better because I could look closer – and did.

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like.” (James 1:23-24)

There is one word here that I never understood the way James meant it.

It’s the word “look”.

I read this in English and I get the picture of a guy who peruses a reflection, and it’s such a cursory look that he forgets what he saw almost as quickly as he saw it. And I always thought it sounded a little crazy that this guy would actually forget what he looked like.

Who forgets what they look like?

But it’s not like that.

Not. At. All.

The Greek word that’s translated as “look” implies intensive scrutiny.

It’s like what I was able to do with that magical mirror in the hotel.

It’s that kind of “looking”.

And it implies not only “looking” but then acting in some way…

like grooming.

But this fictional person in this verse of James looks intently, with every intention to find the flaws that need work, and then walks away and fixes nothing.

And you know how I keep saying that James is a VERY Jewish Christian. It’s because that Jewish-ness bleeds into everything he writes. And if I read him and don’t see with those eyes, I miss important things.

I can’t help thinking that this verse was informed by the Mishna.

I’ve explained the Mishna before – not Scripture – but kind of like the Catechism is to Catholics? That is what the Mishna was to first century Jews.

This passage is about different kinds of synagogue attenders.

“…there is he who goes to synagogue but after hearing Torah does not practice

…and he who practices without going,

and both are rewarded in part for so doing

…But he who goes and practices is the pious person

…he who does neither is ungodly.”

So it’s better to be a hearer of the word of truth and not be a very good doer, than to refuse the word and not do at all – but I don’t want to be that person.

And it’s a good thing to follow the law of love just by winging it – but that’d be like guessing at algebra – when there’s a perfectly good textbook right in front of me.

But it’s best to be a hearer – AND – a doer.

Which one am I?

Feel free to ask me down there in the comment section.

If a few of you comment and ask – I promise to tell you the absolute truth.

(he says wearing a mischievous smile – or as his mom called it a ___ eating grin)

God Bless

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymuss February 8, 2011 at 11:38 am

So many chuckles at your description of the mirror experience!!! Funny!! But the serious part-yes…and sometimes the knowing how or what truly being a doer of the word can be tricky. Sometimes we have been taught that if we are a ‘good Christian’ we will do thus and such. I am finding those admonishments aren’t always correct. I am trying to relearn and truly learn…that’s why I love what you share in your blogs. You help make things clearer. The things you write ring true in my spirit, even when they are painful.


Craig February 8, 2011 at 11:41 am

Thank you A. Sometimes I wish I started studying a happy cheer book like Philippians – but James is so much like the real Jesus – and yes he’s kind of pointy fingered sometimes – but it’s important stuff – so I’m in it till the end of the letter. Then I’ll do something happy and cheery :)

And that mirror was a miracle.

God Bless


Debbie February 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I don’t like those mirrors, Craig. I don’t like looking and seeing. But I do want to know and to be a doer and hearer. God bless you and the way God leads you!


Craig February 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Yeah Deb – but looking into the perfect law of love is kind of like one of those magnif-y mirrors – hmmmmm – forgot to say that in the post – see how you inspire stuff :)

God Bless deb


Mari February 8, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Haha! This had me giggling in the middle of Starbucks as I read…but yes I’ve been a “hearer” for far too long, must move to “doer”. =)


Craig February 8, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Mari, I may never look into one of those mirrors again. :)

Thank you for being here – and reading me. And we all need to be better doers (raising hand here). God Bless you.


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: