Saturday, September 8, 2012

Love and Judgement, James 2:8-13

James 2:8-13 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.  For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.  For the one who said, "You shall not commit adultery," also said, "You shall not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.  So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.  For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. 

There’s a hierarchy of sin.
At least we think there is.

Yesterday, James talked about showing favoritism, about judging people based on their appearances or their wealth (or lack of it). We talked about how we all do this and pondered where we see partiality in our own actions.
Maybe we’re tempted to think, “Well, yeah.  I do that, but it’s not a big deal.  Everyone does it.  It’s just a little sin – like a white lie.  I’m still a pretty good person.”

Remember the Seven Deadly Sins – lust, pride, greed, sloth, anger, envy, gluttony?  Those are the big ones. If we stay away from them, we’re doing pretty good?  Right? 

Well, no.
There really isn’t a hierarchy of sins.  Sin is sin.  James teaches us that if we break one of the commandments, we’ve broken them all.

Jesus says the same thing: Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19).
This means that as much as we hate to admit it, we’re really not that much better than those guys in orange jumpsuits being herded to court we seen on the 5’o clock news.

Paul had it right in Romans – “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 6:23).  Actually, the whole sentence starts in verse 22:  For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
Fortunately, Paul doesn’t leave us hanging.  He finishes this thought with – they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. (Romans 6:24-25a)

Fortunately, we have forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Fortunately, we have grace and mercy from God.

Fortunately, we have the Holy Spirit to show us our sin and to help us conquer it (remember the implanted Word of God in our hearts!).

James reminds us that as sinners who have been judged by the laws of mercy, we need to go and do likewise – show others mercy as well.  That’s the point – “love your neighbor as yourself” in response to God’s love and grace and mercy to you.

Mercy trumps judgement.

Thoughts to ponder:

How does your judgement of someone's sins get in the way of you loving that particular neighbor as yourself?

Does 'love the sinner, hate the sin' really show grace and mercy, or is it just another way to judge?

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