James 2: 1 – 13
There are moments in my life that I find myself judging and I don’t like admitting it. I judge people around me with different religious views or political views, wondering when are they going to get a clue. I judge looks, primarily mine. I choose someone who I think is attractive and compare myself to them, feeling a bit more cut down than before. Girls, we do this all the time. We walk into the room to see who looks better than us, and there will always be someone who looks better than us. So we judge. We find faults with a beautiful woman who we don’t even know, just because we feel inferior to her. Or there’s that guy who is financially set. He is successful in the world’s eyes and if we rub elbows with him, maybe it will rub off on us. Yet we disregard those friends that have been with us through thick and thin because they are not the “right” crowd and are lacking worldly success. We judge. And God help us when we start judging as Christians.
It seems Christians have forgotten their place in society. We were not given the right to judge our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We were not given the right to judge those who do not belong to the faith. Because we don’t judge fairly. We judge a person’s actions because we don’t know their hearts. We look at a person with a drug addiction and judge them because they can’t stop. “Well, if he just came to church more…” or “Well, if he knew Jesus…” Lame! When was the last time you came out of your comfort zone to help someone who doesn’t know how to help themselves? Have you ever thought that maybe that person battling a drug addiction has come to church just to be put down and casted out? And since we are the examples of Jesus to him, he realized based on how we treated him that he didn’t want anything to do with Jesus?
Yet we hang out with Mr. Weatlhy-Pants because he’s got it all together, but if you were to look at his heart it’s as black as night. Oh yeah, he goes to church and flaunts his success. He might even tithe 20%, but when you’re not looking he’s beating his wife, manipulating his children, and treating his employees like scum. See we don’t know his heart.
James reminds us in Chapter 2 about judging others. He chastised the church because they were giving better treatment to the rich man instead of the poor man. “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him whom you belong?” Yeah, we judge and we judge wrong.
There are a few things I want to say about verses 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 law-breaker.”
One, I think we judge because we do not know who we are in Christ. We judge because we do not love ourselves and if we can find someone who has it worse off than we do then it encourages us. Instead we should have been helping out others and receiving our identity from the One who knows use better than we know ourselves. We do not love ourselves. I’m not talking about being cocky or conceited. I am talking about loving ourselves enough to forgive ourselves, enough to except ourselves as we are where we are. Because the fact of the matter is anything good about us is from Jesus! You look in the mirror and like your eyes or your smile. It’s not like you got to go to the “Baby Making R Us” and pick our your features. God gave those to you. You like the talents you have like the ability to dance or draw, play piano or sing. Great! Praise God for them because you did nothing to gain those talents. God blessed you with those.
Or you’re on the opposite end. You can’t find anything good about yourself. Your depression is so deep that you can’t find a reason to wake up in the morning. You hate that you rely on a pill to make this life at least bearable. You hate that you don’t laugh like you use to or smile a true smile. You hate yourself because you feel like you did something wrong to put you in this state of despair. You don’t like the way you look, but you don’t have the motivation to change it so you continue on your current track until you’ve eaten yourself into a bland contentment. There is redemption. There is salvation from this. And I encourage you to get involved with a local Bible-teaching church that will love you as you are and help you love yourself. Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, creator over all things loves you as you are, where you are. He who is perfect loves you unconditionally right now. I pray you accept that truth. If you were the only one on this planet that He had to die for, He would do it. Because He loves you that much!
I pray we all accept His love, because when we are whole in His love we find no need to judge. We find no need to see how we are better than others, because we realize who we are without Him and that without Him we are nothing. With Him we are more than conquerors!
Two, we can’t call ourselves Christians and live by most of the rules and yet forget this one. In Jesus’s eyes, sin is sin is sin. Ok, you didn’t cheat on your wife, but you hate your brother and according to God’s word hating your brother is like committing murder in your heart. Or you’re married and though you haven’t slept with that other co-worker you sure have been thinking about it. Lusting after another is adultery in the heart. See, the heart is where God is most concerned about. “Guard your heart for it is the well-spring of life.” If we are committing sins in our heart, it is as if we are doing them in the flesh. We need to constantly ask for the Holy Spirit to put us in check. Even King David asked God to search him. And if you’re not familiar with David’s story, read it! That man-made mistake after mistake after mistake, but the Bible called him a man after God’s heart. We can’t sit on a pedestal and judge, because we have sinned. We have fallen short. The only way we can look upon the face of Jesus is through His grace and mercy, which brings me to my last point.
Verses 12 & 13 say it all: “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement!” God is our judge, our jury, our prosecutor, and Jesus is our defender. He has cleared a path for us to be able to stand before God cleaned, holy, and righteous. We do not have the right to judge others because we don’t know their hearts. If a friend is doing something that you believe is against the word of God, mercifully extend a hand and talk to them. The Bible tells us to make sure we put a brother back on the right course. But remember, “judgement without mercy will be show to anyone who has not been merciful”. Do not cast judgement, but rather extend mercy. Offer help to the drug addict. You could literally save his life.
Thank you for your truth, your mercy and your grace. I pray that as we go about our days on this earth that you keep us in check. Remind us of where you brought us from and we are nothing apart from you. You have given us every good and perfect gift not because we deserve it, but because that is how you love us. I pray for self-control upon us that instead of casting a hateful glance, we would speak life-giving words. I pray that you show us how to love ourselves so that we may love others. And for those that can’t find you in their lives, I pray you provide a way. Thank you for what you are doing, what you have done and what you are going to do.
In Jesus’ name,
Y’all have a great day!