A few years ago my father, brother and I traveled from the mid-Atlantic to upstate New York to visit my paternal grandmother. Her health had not been well, and we thought it important that we go to see her. We arrived within a half hour or so of her home late on a Friday night and checked into a hotel. The following morning, I had showered and dressed and my brother looked at me and said, “Your gig line’s not straight.” Turns out he was telling the truth, but was also just giving me a hard time. However, I had no idea what he was talking about; to my knowledge, I had never heard the term. So, he explained it to me. “Gig line” is a military term that refers to the alignment of the shirt, belt buckle and trouser fly, and when properly attired those three items should form a straight line. (My brother was never in the military, but he had been a stand out in high school in the JROTC program, and quite possibly would have pursued the military if his colorblindness had not disqualified him for his preferred area of service). So basically he was giving me a hard time, saying the buttons of my shirt and my trouser fly were not properly aligned. Maybe it is my fondness for trivial information or the fact that I have always tried to dress neatly that I have remembered what for most people would likely be a quickly-forgotten conversation. In fact, I have not only remembered it, but rarely does a day go by when I do not consciously check my gig line in the mirror!
In the grand scheme of things, of course, the alignment of my gig line matters little. And yet I habitually check it to make sure it lines up. As I said, I look in the mirror to check it. If it is crooked, I fix it. It would be foolish for me to look in the mirror, see that my gig line was not aligned, and then walk away without fixing it. What would be the point of that? After all, checking it is only of any value if I make any necessary corrections revealed by the checking. If next time my brother saw me he happened to say, “Your gig line is crooked” and I replied with, “I know,” he would justifiably think it a bit odd that I knew there was a need for correction but I did not bother to do it.
Spiritually speaking, though, I am afraid I am sometimes guilty of just that. James writes about this very idea when he writes, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:22-24). How often do I look into the Word of God–either in personal Bible reading or by hearing the Word taught–and then go on my way, ignoring the necessary corrections that the mirror revealed? James makes it clear that just hearing the Word is not enough; we must be doers. If my outward appearance is important enough to me to pause in front of the glass mirror to check my gig line each day, how much more important should by spiritual development be? How much more important is it to look into the spiritual mirror of the Word of God and then to do what it says, to straighten my spiritual gig line? James says that anyone who fails to do so is deceiving themselves.
What about you…how’s your gig line?