Connected to Ourselves - 16 April 2018

Louise Gevers

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he’s heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25

"For hours, the man studies his face in the mirror. The deep-set eyes. The gray stubble on the chin. The furrows of the brow. It is his face, but it is a startling revelation. He has not seen it in 53 years. He no longer remembers the name that goes with the face.”

This is a Chicago Tribune reporter’s poignant description of the trauma experienced by the last World War 2 prisoner held by Russia, seeing himself again. A Hungarian man, only released in the year 2000, he had been thought to be schizophrenic because his captors couldn’t understand his language, and had put him in a mental asylum. A visiting psychiatrist recognised his Hungarian dialect and had him released after realising the tragic mistake - he was not mentally disturbed. But for years he’d been out of touch with reality through misunderstanding and being deprived of seeing himself.

Society places a lot of emphasis on outward appearance, but attention to inner wellness is just as important. A mirror is a helpful addition to everyday life as it protects our dignity. If we have forgotten to brush our hair, or have traces of breakfast on our chin, one glance in a mirror quickly reminds us and we are able to make ourselves respectable before leaving the house to face the day. The mirror keeps us in touch with reality.

For a reality check for our spiritual lives, James evokes the image of the Word as a mirror. This mirror enables us to look into ourselves to recognise those things inside us that conflict with God’s truth and need correction, in the same way that we see the truth of our appearance in a mirror and correct our outward appearance. James says we must look “intently into the perfect law that gives freedom” and keep remembering to do it. Of course it’s easier to wipe the breakfast off our chin than change destructive lifestyles and habits, but being a doer of the Word will empower us to overcome things that hold us captive and bring blessing into every part of life.

Our heavenly Father waits for us daily to look into His mirror to connect with Him, to encourage us on the narrow path.  “To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

Prayer: Lord, I need to connect with the reality of my spiritual health through Your Word. Please help me to act on what I see and never to forget who I am in You. Amen.

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