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For he looks at himself and goes away, and immediately forgets what sort of man he was. (James 1:24)
When a person looks into a mirror, he is good at quickly seeing what is improper as to his appearance. Maybe he has been unable to sleep, so he sees the yellow skin and puffy eyes and dark circles under the eyes. Maybe he sees that he has more gray hair coming in from increased age. When he looks intently into a mirror, he is aware of the things that should give him pause as to how he is living his life. Sleepless nights can cause high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, memory loss, diabetes, and lower libidos, and less interest in sex. Does it seem logical to ignore the physical signs of lacking sleep? Should we not consider how we could turn things around? Nevertheless, the man in James’ analogy quickly forgets, once he has turned away from the mirror. It is a case of, ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ as he may want to forget some unwelcome features. Yes, once he has walked away from the mirror, he allows the anxieties of the day to crowd out his appearance, forgetting what he may have needed to correct. (See 2 Pet. 1:9) However, the man who is a doer reacts quite differently as he looks into the perfect law.
The very moment that he goes away, he forgets what deficiencies he saw. The apostle James is not talking about himself, but instead, he is speaking to what is known to occur as a common reality to imperfect humans. The person who goes away forgets what sort of man he was. How he looked; and particularly if there was anything in his appearance that needed correction. Douglas J. Moo observes, “The key failure of the ‘hearer only,’ then, is forgetting. We touch here on a pervasive and important biblical theme. The Lord constantly warned the people of Israel not to ‘forget’ his mighty acts on their behalf but to ‘remember’ his mercies and his law (Exod. 13:3; Num. 15:39; Deut. 6:12; 8:2; Mal. 4:4). In the NT, Peter, for instance, structures the exhortation in his second letter around the theme of memory (2 Pet. 1:12–13; 3:1, 8; cf. the contrast with the false teachers who ‘forget’ in 3:5). To ‘remember’ God, his acts and his teachings, is to contemplate them in such a way that they make a lasting impression on the heart and the mind. The person who ‘forgets’ what he has seen in God’s word is one who reads or listens superficially, not imprinting the message on the soul.”
 Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000), 93.