Do not merely listen to the word. . . . Do what it says. (James 1:22)

In my grandmother’s day, and in generations before her, many women practiced a tradition largely lost today. After dinner preparations were over, and before coming to the table, women headed to their rooms and their mirrors, washed their faces, and combed their hair. While the wealthy changed into formal attire, others simply donned a clean dress. During her visits, my grandmother always expected my family to freshen up before dinner.

James reminded us that we should regularly and honestly evaluate the condition of our souls. Are we obedient to what God tells us? His Word is more than good philosophical and moral teaching. Like a mirror, it is intended to reveal our true condition and inspire necessary changes. Just before today’s reading, James wrote of the moral filth that can stain us. “Wash it off,” he said. Don’t just look in the mirror; do something about what you see.

While my grandmother’s tradition was meant to make us “presentable” at the family table, we have been invited to the Lord’s Table. We sit with the King of the universe. Let that inspire us, as we approach His Supper, to gaze in the mirror of His Word, wipe the flour off our cheeks, and brush the tangles from our hair. Not because He won’t accept us otherwise, but because we love Him so much we only want to present our best to Him.

Write a note on your mirror: “Do not merely listen. Do” (James 1:22).

Diane Gardner lives in the San Francisco Bay area, where she enjoys theater, community events, and watching the sun set over the bay.