The Mind of Christ in His Word: Part 1 (4)
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 observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1.22-25
The mirror of God’s Word
In two places, the Bible refers to itself as a mirror. We look into the Scriptures, and something looks back at us. We’ve already considered the first of these places – 2 Corinthians 3.12-18. We look intently into the Word of God, waiting on the Spirit to teach and lead us, and in due time, God looks out, in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4.6), and shows us His glory.
In this respect Scripture shows us not what we are, but what we are to become. Scripture is a reliable mirror in this regard, in that it shows us consistently the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, and works within us – mind, heart, and conscience – to shape us into that same image.
But our passage suggests another way that Scripture works as a mirror. It shows us ourselves, or even, the times in which we live. As we read and study the Bible, it brings to light things in us, in human nature generally, or in the culture and conditions of our time, which we might not pay enough attention to, were it not that Scripture calls these things to mind.
When this happens, we may experience a variety of responses. We may feel our minds illuminated, so that we understand something we never did before, or see something we have always understood one way in an altogether new light. Or, we may feel conviction, as we realize that something in us, or in our world, is not what God intends for His glory and our benefit. As the mirror of God’s Word reflects Him and us back to us, we may experience shame, relief, joy, insight, even a kind of aha! feeling, as if suddenly, something we’ve always wondered about has become crystal clear.
So as we come to Scripture day by day, reading and meditating throughout the Word of God, we want to see Jesus in His Word, but we also want to look carefully to see ourselves and the times in which we live.
But what do we do then?
Responding to the mirror of ourselves
Scripture, we know, is profitable for doctrine (2 Tim. 3.15-17). We’ll have more to say about why this is important in our next study in this series. Unhappily, it’s all too easy to read Scripture only for the sake of “fleshing out” our doctrinal views. This we should do; however, we should also keep in mind why doctrine matters. Sound doctrine matters because it is the key to sound learning and real discipleship (1 Tim. 1.1-5). We must never fall into the practice of reading only, or even primarily, to gain doctrinal understanding. Sound doctrine must always be for the nurture of the entire soul and the transformation of the whole of life, all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities.
As James puts it, when, in our reading and study of Scripture, we come in our mind to see where we are against the backdrop of where we ought to be, then it’s time to take concrete steps to bring our daily reality more into line with what God wants us to become in Jesus Christ.
We need to be prepared to act on what we’re learning, to be doers of Scripture, and not hearers only. So how can we do this effectively?
Right where you are
Typically, whatever we learn about ourselves from Scripture will come from new understandings, improved affections, and new or reinforced priorities – changes in the inner life, within our souls. These changes begin to take shape in our thinking, as we take our thoughts captive to the mind of Christ, and they are just the first step. Whatever is going on inside us to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ will only come to fruition as that transformation is expressed in actions – words and deeds.
Words and deeds are the means by which we carry out the good works for which we have been redeemed (Eph. 2.8-10) and for which God has given us His Word (2 Tim. 3.15-17). So, whatever changes are going to occur in our lives, causing us to look more like Jesus and less like our old selves, they’re going to be expressed in the things we say and the things we do.
And those will be expressed, not merely in some setting at church – worship, Bible study group, or whatever – but in the normal course of our everyday lives, with the people we see, and in the duties and activities we carry out.
Every day, we are called to the Kingdom and glory of God and sent by Jesus into specific places, where we encounter the same people over and over (1 Thess. 2.12; Jn. 20.21). Here, in the everyday situations of our lives, is where God intends for us to demonstrate the transformation He is teaching us in His Word and working to achieve in our souls. As we study the Bible, therefore, we should think ahead to the places we’ll go and the people we’ll see, asking the Lord to give us wisdom in how to use our time, and to establish the words or works He wants for us in expressing the inward reality of Jesus Christ (Ps. 90.12, 16, 17). We want to see our day as Jesus would, so that His mind guides us in everything we do.
As we come away from the mirror of God’s Word each day, we should be equipped with specific plans for taking specific action steps that will make it possible for Jesus to increase in us at every opportunity. Read Scripture for your life (Deut. 32.46, 47), and live your life, daily renewed in your mind, as a reflection of what God shows you in the mirror of His Word.
1. How do you experience this matter of reading Scripture as a mirror? Can you give an example of how this has worked in your life?
2. Meditate on John 20.21. How was Jesus sent to the world? How is He sending you?
3. What can you do each day to make sure you have some specific action steps from your time of reading God’s Word?
Next steps – Preparation: Have you mapped out your Personal Mission Field? Watch this brief video (click here), then download the worksheet and start taking sharper aim at the places and people to which God sends you each day.
T. M. Moore
Our book, The Joy and Rejoicing of My Heart, goes into more detail about how to get the most out of your time in the Scriptures. Order your free copy by clicking here.
All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here. Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.