“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10 NASB)
Some memories remain vivid despite their age. It’s been nearly twenty years since the day I began to like myself. It began in a terrible way. I’d been on a train from the north of India going to New Delhi. I’d been literally on my knees, bent over my backpack, as there were no seats in the fourth-class car on which I rode. The train arrived at my station, but people were crowding into the car. I was trapped by a mass of bodies preventing me for getting off. I yelled and thrust my 6-foot- 4-inch body out the door. As I stepped upon the platform, I realized I’d nearly trampled an old man. I looked down at his hat, fallen on the steps. I can see steps even now, yet don’t know if I picked up the hat or not.
As I walked toward the exit of the station, it dawned on me all that could have happened in my rage to leave the train. I felt badly. Horrible. If I could do that, of what else was I capable? Was I any better than a murderer? I’d tried all my life to do right, to live the law of holiness. Yet here I was stumbling on one point. How was I treating people? Putting myself before others, thrashing about exiting a train, was this righteous?
James writes that if we are guilty of one offense, we are guilty of all offenses. I am no better than the worst of the worst. And if that is true of me, then it is true of all. Oddly enough I started to like myself. I realized that I’d compared myself to others without thinking about it. I was better than the man in prison, but not as good as the preachers whose works I read or listened. But if I’m no better than the worst, I’m as good as the best because of Y’shuaJesus, who makes us all equal in Him.
I began to understand what James writes to us about not esteeming one person more highly than another. Y’shuaJesus is present equally in all that believe in Him. James calls to us to show mercy for “mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13) Y’shuaJesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
Mercy, as defined in my Bible, is “special and immediate regard to the misery which is the consequence of sins.” As believers, we can be merciful to ourselves, for Y’shuaJesus showed us mercy. We can be merciful to others, for Y’shuaJesus showed them mercy, too.
“We exercise this mercy through our compassion for the misery of sin,” or so the lexical aid in my Bible states. I wonder about this statement. Perhaps it means I’ll treat a person mercifully if I understand deeply that person is caught in the misery of sin. After all, how easily I could be caught, trapped, by some sin.
Thank You, LORD, for the grace shown to us, the undeserved mercy we’ve obtained from You. Enable us by Your Spirit to show mercy to others, to love others, to love ourselves. AMEN.
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .