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.
I read this, then went back and read it a few times over, trying to understand the mirror analogy. Through personal reflection and discussion with my family, I noted two major takeaways from the passage. The first point I noticed lies in not forgetting. So often, even in my own experience, I go to church, youth group, a Christian camp, hear a message, and forget about it within an hour. If you asked me the following day what the sermon covered, it would take me a few minutes to remember, and after several days, I might not have any idea. In these cases, I am being "a hearer of the word and not a doer." What good is it to sit in church and listen to a teaching if you then neglect to apply it to your life and grow from what you heard? Sometimes, it's a challenge to pull a practical aspect out of a lesson, but I've found that the times I do this, the more I get out of it. When I take the effort to find a practical application and truly work to practice this in my own life, that's when I make progress in my spiritual walk. Growing closer to the Lord takes work, and that includes finding and applying spiritual lessons. For me, this may be hearing a teaching regarding self discipline, then asking myself what areas of self discipline I'm not good at, how to be better, and then doing so.
My second note regarding this passage concerns self-examination and relates to the point I made above. My best understanding of the mirror analogy is this: When we study ourselves, and find areas that we need to improve upon (as we always will), we are foolish if we do not then go and work to fix those areas. Like I mentioned earlier, it does no good to hear a message or notice ways we should be better in our spiritual lives and not work to become better. The entire point is to notice things to improve in ourselves, and then find ways to do so. Otherwise, we are being lazy, and honestly very foolish. We're concentrating on our short-term, earthly lives, not on honoring the One who gave His own life for us. We're being focused on the temporary, not eternity-minded. Remember, even if we neglect to grow spiritually and examine ourselves, God knows. If you lack insight, ask Him and read your Bible. Hebrews 4:12-13 points out:
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account."So next time you are at church, youth group, or God reveals something to you, ask yourself how you can grow through it, and apply it to your life. God will honor your efforts and help you grow stronger in Him. "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).