“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:23-24)
Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and seen something appalling? Maybe you haven’t, but I definitely have. Broccoli in my teeth, schmutz on my cheek—the mirror reveals it all.
I’ve never looked in the mirror and said, “oh, no, broccoli in my teeth,” and then went on about my business without getting rid of the broccoli. No, when the mirror reveals the horror of the broccoli, I do something about it. I deal with it.
God doesn’t care about the schmutz on our cheek or the broccoli in our teeth. But he cares deeply about the junk that lodges in our hearts. The Scripture says hearing the Word of God is like looking in a mirror. The Bible has the power to reveal any destructive issues in our hearts. Instead of hearing the Word, seeing the problem, and choosing to ignore it, we must make up our minds to do something about it.
What are some heart problems we need to deal with instead of ignoring? Let’s talk about just two common heart problems.
- Guilt can sometimes be a good thing. It’s healthy to feel bad if we do something wrong. What isn’t healthy is to let guilt dwell in our hearts year after year. Unresolved guilt is resolved by confession, accepting God’s forgiveness, and forgiving ourselves. It may require humbling ourselves and doing what we can to make things right with the person we wronged. When we take steps to deal with the guilt, we free ourselves from its hold on our heart. (See 1 John 1:19.)
- Anger lodged in our hearts will spill over onto the people around us. Why continue to give people who hurt us in the past the power to affect our future? For our own good, and because Jesus requires it of us, we must forgive those who hurt us and let go of the anger. They may not deserve to be forgiven, but we deserve to live without anger. (See Ephesians 4:31-32.)
Guilt and anger are just two examples. Jealousy, bitterness, guilt, greed, lust, anxiety…the list goes on and on. So many destructive issues can make their homes in our hearts
A friend of mine developed atrial fibrilation (AFib), an irregular heartbeat. His cardiologist ordered a lot of tests and they all came back normal. There appeared to be nothing wrong with his heart—except AFib. The doctor said he could live a long time with AFib, but if left untreated, it would eventually cause deformities in his heart. So, to keep his heart from damage, he dealt with it.
In the same way, not dealing with spiritual issues eventually causes spiritual deformities. Maybe we can live with our anger, depression, or guilt, but God doesn’t want us to keep living with our heart issues.
God’s Word tells us to deal with our heart issues. “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:25). Do we want to be blessed in what we do? If so, we must look intently into God’s Word and let it be a mirror to show us what needs changed in our hearts.
What destructive issues are in our hearts right now? Instead of ignoring what we see in the mirror of the Word, let’s do something about it. Let’s deal with it.
Dear God, forgive me for the times I’ve heard your Word and realized I needed to change, but walked away without taking any action. For the sake of my heart and for the sake of my relationship with you, help me to not only hear your Word, but to do it. Give me the courage to acknowledge my heart issues and the resolve to deal with them. In Jesus’s name, amen.