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 someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
James suggests that there are a lot of believers walking around with spiritual bedhead. They merely hear the word. They don’t do it. They are like a person who thinks they are looking good because they own a mirror. They are like someone who thinks they are looking good because they noticed their bedhead.
James calls this self-deception. It’s lying to ourselves. I’m ok because I have a Bible. I’m ok because I went to church. I’m ok because I did my religious duty. I’m ok because that person over there has serious bedhead. Mine can’t be that bad. These are lies we tell ourselves.
When you look into the mirror, you can see clearly what is out of place, but that’s just the start. Obviously, seeing our shortcomings is not enough. We need to do something about it. James tells us that when we’ve looked into the mirror, we’ve only begun. Now we must act.
Get that brush. Get that razor. Get that soap. Get that towel. And get to work.