The Everyday Girl Guide to: James and My Life (James 2:10-11)

July 2, 2013

There are ten basic commandments: no other Gods, no idols, don’t take God’s name in vain, remember the Sabbath, honor your parents, no murder, no adultery, no stealing, no lying, no coveting.  [Exodus 20:3-17]  (For now, we’ll leave out the easier “Love God. Love your neighbor. Love yourself.”)  By the time we graduate high school, all of us have broken one of them… if not all of them.

Hey, I’ve never committed adultery and I’ve definitely never killed someone! 

Really?  I’ve definitely seen some guy on television, in a movie, or even on the street and had the stray lustful thought.  Don’t think that’s adultery?  Try Matthew 5:28.  I’m not sure I’ve ever wished someone else dead, but I’ve definitely thought bad things toward them.  Thoughts don’t count.  Again, I’m going to the Source… who disagrees in Matthew 5:21-22.

Alright, so we’ve all broken commandments.  Most of us at least get to console ourselves with the thought that we only break the smaller commandments: a white lie here, a little coveting there, maybe not honoring every Sabbath.  We’re not as bad as the guy who murdered someone or that woman who had a sordid affair… even if they repented.

Who came up with this hierarchy– and where do they find it in the Bible??

James 2:10-11 says:

10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[a] also said, “You shall not murder.”[b] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Okay, admittedly, this verse mentions the same two “big” sins, but it also states quite clearly that “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it [emphasis mine].

It’s really easy to fall into the “I didn’t” trap and get that holier-than-thou bloated Christian feeling.  “I didn’t commit murder like that guy, so I’m a better person/ better Christian.”  Not according to James.  “I didn’t ever commit adultery and have been faithfully married for ten years now, so I’m a better person/ better Christian than that woman who wrecked her marriage.”  Sorry.  James still says no.

Now, for some of us, me included, this grace is a blessing.  We are on the same footing as the near-saint under the blood of Christ.  Back when I was a holy roller, though, with my nose in the air so I wouldn’t smell the stink of those sinners below me, I had some major issues with “worse” sinners getting off so easily.  It took a pretty serious fall from grace for me to realise that the story of the prodigal son isn’t just a parable.  God loves every one of His children equally and He’d really prefer we learn the lesson, come back into the fold, and live.  It’s only a jealous sibling, thinking she deserves preferential treatment for toeing the line, that thinks her rebellious big brother deserves at least a royal whipping before he gets to come home.

There are two parts to this lesson, though.  As a sinner who fell far from grace, I now feel a bigger draw toward the second: there is no sin big enough to separate me from God.  If I murder and repent, God still loves and forgives me.  If I commit adultery and repent, God still loves and forgives me.  I am on the same footing as those “pure” Christians who have never done anything the world considers a serious sin.

That one little fact takes away a lot of ammo when Satan wants to attack my “saved” status.  When you’re fighting a spiritual battle, that can make all the difference.

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