Last week I made a Facebook post, “Things You Can Do at the Same Time,” discussing that following Jesus’ command to love others as we love ourselves means that we can care for American people and interests and for international people and interests as well. Check it out if you like. A couple of people stressed following the laws of America, and I semi-jokingly asked if they also obeyed all speed laws. One acknowledged he did not, and he wondered if he got stopped if he could ask for asylum!
Being a fellow lover of going fast, I said I hoped so--and officers have often given me grace when they caught me over the limit. But this struck me with how our nature tempts us to follow laws we like and break those we don’t. Yet let’s transcend immigration caravans and speeding to weightier issues. Do we do the same with God?
I’ve noticed that I—and more than a few others—feel free to condemn the sins that I don’t do and to ignore the ones I do. I’ll condemn murder, but rarely do that to gossip. And never gluttony—I love my annual trip to the buffet of a nearby casino too much. And while I try to do better, I sometimes lie when I say I’ll pray for someone.
Now, here’s the kicker. I encourage you to read the entire passage of James 2:1-13, but here’s a principle that scares me into striving to be more consistent, “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws” (verse 10, NLT).
That’s harsh. Very harsh. If I sin just once in my entire life, I’m as guilty as Charles Manson. Granted, we all sin, and will the rest of our lives. But do we strive to be consistent? To obey comprehensively, not selectively? Will we consider our sins as on the same level as others? Perhaps we don’t fully comprehend the evil inherent in all sin, not to the level of God anyway. Not according to that passage in James.
The problem: when we selectively obey, we tell God we know better than he does. Even though he said avoid it, we ignore him. So, we strive for consistency. We take all of his commands seriously. And we rely on grace when we fail.
Kick Starting the Application
Think for a bit on what commands from God you tend to ignore in yourself. Why did you pick that one? What hint does that give about your faith, your concept of God? What can you do this week to move away from selective obedience? Give yourself a week or two to work on this one, then ask him to reveal other issues you tend to ignore.