Jms. 3:2 “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”
We do well to remember that James is addressing Christ followers in his letter (Jms. 1:1) when he says “we all stumble in many ways.” We are not perfect people. We make no claim to perfection. We are people in progress. The only perfect man was Jesus. A follower of Jesus I most definitely am. Because I am human with inbred sin, the battle is constant and I am a frequently failing follower. I want it to be known that I follow Jesus, but I do not want people ever to think that means I am all grown up so that I hardly ever sin.
It’s lonely in the kingdom of God for anyone who battles with sin, whether that’s a brand-new believer or a long-time follower. It looks like everyone else at church has conquered all the sin-struggles. They don’t feel comfortable admitting where they fail because they think they’re the only one, so they must be inferior somehow. No one will understand.
Too many masks are worn in Christian circles. I wish we would take them off and let each other know the truth, how we struggle. We could be so much more encouraging to one another if we were honest about the sin with which we battle, sometimes winning great victories and sometimes falling victim to temptation. We need to be truthful about sin, conviction, repentance and commitment to obey as the cycle continues to repeat itself in our daily lives, no matter how long we have known the Lord and walked in the light with him. We are all a bunch of stumblebums.
I’m not advocating hanging out the dirty laundry just for the sake of airing it. I mean let’s take a good look at why we feel the need to present such an all-together front, when it’s so counter-productive to our own spiritual health and the good of others in the kingdom of God. Do we think God expects us to appear perfect? Is it frightening to be honest when so few are? Are we meeting the expectations of other Christians?
I fear that God’s grace is at the root of this matter – failure to realize our moment-by-moment need of it, failure to wallow in it as God floods it over us in conviction, repentance and commitment to obey.
When I luxuriate in the flood of grace God gives, I am not afraid to admit my continuing battle with sin. There is no self-delusion that God somehow expects me to be pretty much sinless the longer I know him. What a crock! He knows me better than that.
If I manage to handle a few minutes of the day without sin, it is ONLY because his grace is mightily active within me – and when I sin his grace is right there to whisper, “That is sin.” His grace gives my heart an ache over it causing me to agree with him that it is, indeed, sin. His grace gives me the gift of repentance. His grace brings me to commit myself again to obey him in that matter. His grace provides the power actually to follow through and obey him. I have nothing to hide and everything to advertise: “GOD’S GRACE IS AMAZING!”