S (Scripture): James 2:8 But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as violators. 10 For the one who obeys the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law. 12 Speak and act as those who will be judged by a law that gives freedom. 13 For judgment is merciless for the one who has shown no mercy. But mercy triumphs over judgment.
O (Observation): James recognizes that some of the followers of Jesus have begun to judge one another…and therefore see one another as “better” than the other. He reminds them, fairly clearly, that if one commits ANY sin, one is completely full of sin.
And on the flip side James suggests presenting mercy, rather than judgment, as the way for God’s people treat one another…since none of us are free from sin.
A (Application): Humility is the key for James. Knowing that our own sin causes us to be stained, why not extend the mercy in a way that is healthy. We can call out one another’s sins, but only in the context of an established and healthy relationship.
I think this is what James means by a “law that gives freedom.” I don’t think James wants us to ignore sin, but instead to love people in spite of their sin. And in that redemption, God saving us from our sin, we are set free to love God and serve our neighbor.
This text and application make me think about the importance of people connecting in various groups in the faith community.
In the congregation I serve, we have several places that people can connect, but there is room for so much more. In those connections, people can, with humility, point out one another’s blessings and create a space where healthy critique can happen. In these spaces, we can come to one another and seek forgiveness and hope.
So what groups are you involved with? Do you have a space where you can be real and open and receive mercy?
P (Prayer): Lord, we give you thanks for the gift of grace, and for your mercy. With your mercy, we can be real and open. Amen.