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Sunday, March 4, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 12 ~ The Whole Law

Day 12 ~ The Whole Law
James 2:8-11  If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself,"  you are doing right.  But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  For he who said, "Do not commit adultery,"  also said, "Do not murder."  If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
We have a great way of downplaying our sin.  We will call our sins "mistakes" or "accidents."  We tend to view some sins as worse than others.  Conveniently, the sins we see as being the worst are the ones "they" are committing.  Not me.  My sins aren't that bad.  They are just, you know, mistakes.  But James has no time for such word games.  Stumbling against God's law at just one point-one measly, little point-makes you a lawbreaker.  You who stumble are guilty of breaking the whole thing.  Period.  The big theme in James 2 thus far has centered around  the sin of favoritism.  James says it  breaks the law of God.  We may well ask, what is the law that is broken?  I don't recall any of the commandments that says, "Thou shall not show favoritism."  So, how can James tell me I am a lawbreaker here if that law isn't exactly one of the top ten?

To show favoritism is to break commandments four through ten, summarized in the royal law, "Love your neighbor as yourself!"  These commandments teach us how God wants us to treat one another.  Favoritism is always selfish because with it we are always favoring ourselves.  We show favoritism when we think we can get something out of someone else.  So why are the rich exalted over the poor?  Because the rich are better?  No, because we can get something out of them.  We use them for our own ends.  It is the same with the example James gives of adultery.  No one commits adultery because they love someone, they do it because it makes them feel good, or alive, or young, or free, or something stupid like that.

Favoritism is self-love.  Self-love breaks the commands of God.  Breaking the commands of God means placing yourself above God (I know better than He what I should be doing with my life).  Thus, every sin committed is a breaking of the first commandment -You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)- because we are putting ourselves before God, thus making ourselves out to be our own gods.

Our sins are deadly.  They are the evidence that our hearts are not as right as we think they are.  Such a realization sends us fleeing to the cross for mercy.  Christ does not come to help guide those who make mistakes to make better choices.  He comes to forgiven sinners.   Though He never broke the law once, He comes to stand as though He was the lawbreaker before God on behalf of the true lawbreaker: You!  He takes your place.  Lest we think our sins small, let us look upon the cross to see what happened to the One who bears our sins.  Fellow lawbreaker, you are forgiven for His sake, because He was the sin bearer on your behalf.  

Confess:  God of all mercy, I confess that I have shown myself favoritism over you and your people.  I have lived as if I mattered most, without love for others or you.  I pray that you, because of your infinite mercy and for the sake of your Son's holy, innocent, and bitter sufferings, would forgive and renew me to love you with my whole heart and my neighbor as myself.  AMEN

Challenge:  Revisit the commandment you were supposed to memorize a few days ago.  Have you had a chance to act on it?  How did it go?  Continue to work on that today.  

Pastor Bob

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