A mirror is probably one of the most honest things there is. It doesn’t lie. Every time one looks into a mirror there is an accurate reflection of exactly what one is. About the only way to make a mirror lie is to distort it. Even then, the reflection is not flattering.
James says looking into the Bible one can see self in his natural face. This means bare bones, nothing doctored up. An actor can be made up to appear very different than natural, but that becomes hypocrisy. The word hypocrite is an old word for an actor, one who pretends to be someone else. The Bible rips away the veneer of pretense and lays bare what we are in God’s view.
The Mirror of the Soul reveals the origin of the soul (Genesis 2:7). It equally tells us the great value of the soul (Matthew 16:26). The mirror God gives us also shows us our personal defects and shortcomings (Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:1-5). Most important of all it shows us the eternal destiny of the soul (Matthew 25:46).
The mirrors we use sometimes get smudged and dirty. Good housekeepers will clean them with diligence. A dirty mirror tends to blur our vision of what we actually look like. When clean, a better and accurate image is reflected. The word of God is ever clean and pure (Psalm 12:6). It never fails to show us what the Lord thinks of us.
James pictures one who, after seeing self in God’s mirror, instantly walks away and forgets what was seen. The tenses show that one takes a look (once) then instantly ignores it, and continues to avoid the mirror. The only one blessed is the honest person who sees self as God sees him, makes whatever corrections are needed, and does what God would have him do. Take a good look at yourself in the Bible. What do you see? What does God see?
“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 1:23-25).