Grading on the Curve

Jms. 2:10-11  “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one 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 become a lawbreaker.”

“I’m not so bad. I’m a pretty good person, actually. I’m no murderer and I’m even faithful to my spouse! God grades on the curve, doesn’t he?”

When I hear someone use those phrases I have asked, “Then, why do you think Jesus came to die?” I’ve gotten responses something like, “for those who really need forgiveness.”

When I was a teenager I took a course to learn how to present the gospel. The instructor started off with Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” He said, “You won’t really have to spend a lot of time on this verse because everyone knows they’re sinful.” And, you know, I think that was pretty much true in the 60’s. But that has certainly changed!

Now people in general have bought the line that sin is relative. If you mean well, you get a pass. If you’re in love it’s really not wrong and especially if it feels good it must be okay. Play the blame game – I can always find someone else to blame and then not even God will hold me responsible, right? Cold blooded murder and grand larceny are the only really wrong things – and of course anything that’s politically incorrect.

But God doesn’t grade on the curve after all. He has an extremely high standard – perfection! Houston, we definitely have a problem. There is no one who can meet that standard and please God. No one but Jesus – and he met it on behalf of those who put their trust in him for forgiveness of their failure to meet the standard.

But first we have to acknowledge our failure to meet it. God gives to us the awareness of sinfulness and our need for forgiveness, so we cease justifying ourselves as though we only told white lies and God should overlook what we’ve done. God gives the gift of repentance and we admit our sinfulness and turn away from it. He gives faith to our hearts and in that faith we move toward him. We become his follower and desire to obey him.

James 2:10 is an important verse for the understanding of our holy God. He doesn’t lower his standard because he loves us. Christ died to meet the standard because he loves us.


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