Facing our mirrors first thing in the morning is NOT that pleasant an experience. Mirrors are very honest little things. They don’t compromise. They don’t gloss over our defects and tell us we’re better-looking than we really are.
Likewise, the word of God is a mirror which the Holy Spirit uses to enable us to see ourselves as we really are. The view we get is not what we think, it is how God see us.
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath ( Vs20) For the wrath of man does not produce righteousness of God.(21) Wherefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
To me, “Swift to hear" describes an attentive heart, listening to what God is trying to communicate to us. We need to be slow both, to speak and to wrath; that is to cultivate a calm spirit. For “the wrath of man does not produce righteousness of God” or our anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
Do we cultivate a heart and life that welcomes the word of God? It is a life characterized by an attitude of humility. We learnt that in the first sermon on Beatitudes; Mathew 5: 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And such a life must be prepared to receive the word just as soil is prepared to receive the seed. After all, James tells us that the word is “implanted in you.”
Another thing we need to work on according to James is to “lay aside all filthiness”. And the point of this whole mirror analogy is to illustrate this.
We don’t like to think of ourselves as having “filthy habits” or “wicked conduct.” They may not be the socially unacceptable filthy habits. Paul writes in Colossians 3:8 But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Habits take a lot of work to break; but the Holy Spirit can help us break these filthy habits. Let us be watchful of the words that come out of arrogance, jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, hatred, gossip, pettiness, envy and guilt feelings. Jesus said that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Mat. 12:34) Although that’s tough to combat, spending time with God and reading His word would allow us to see ourselves in the mirror of God’s word clearly.
Recall the sermon being Merciful and pure in heart- Mathew 5:7-8? Relate this to James 1: 26 -27 “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. Make no mistake: bridle the tongue!
If we are practicing pure religion (life in Christ) it should manifest itself in our love and care for those who are afflicted. James puts a spotlight on two categories of people: widows and orphans. And notice that it’s not enough to just say that we care for them, we need to be actually helping “those who are afflicted”.
How do we line up with this line of testing? Are we growing in holiness and love for others? We need God’s wisdom to respond correctly in every aspect of our lives and let our deficiency draw us closer to Jesus. Only through His power can we grow in our internal love for Him and our external service toward others.
Dear Heavenly Father
Let no corrupting talk come out of my mouth, but only those good for building up, that it may give grace to those who hear. Increase my faith Lord, give me words of wisdom, words that can bring healing and love towards others, let my actions follow through and reflect You always. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen