Read James 2
Focus on verse 10
There are certain things that I get weirdly particular about. I like them done a certain way, and therefore typically don’t ask someone else to do it for me. There are plenty of other things that don’t bother me in the slightest if they are not done to perfection, in fact, I don’t even notice. I suppose in this regard we all have our little quirks.
In light of today’s reading it brings up the question of how one might define perfection. Perhaps a better question might be “what does it take to ruin a perfect record?” The answer of course is “only one mistake”.
An illustration of how this might work is as follows. Suppose I have a friend who makes the best chocolate macaroon cookies ever, and this friend offers me one of these cookies – fresh and still a little warm. It looks and smells delicious, but just before I take the first bite my friend says, “Oh, before you eat that, I should probably mention, when I was mixing up the batter for these cookies, our dog had an accident in the house, and as I was cleaning it up I think a little bit of dog poo might have got into the batter”. The friend then adds, “Not to worry though – I doubt that it will affect the flavor any – enjoy!” Now, hopefully no one would seriously offer to serve anything like that to company, yet when we expect God to accept us based upon our notion that we have done more good things than bad things in our life, it is not unlike offering him a cookie with just a little poo in it.
In today’s reading James writes,
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. (v. 10)
Apparently God has a standard for those who attempt to earn His approval by their works. That standard is perfection. If I want to earn my way to heaven all I have to do is never ever break His law – not even once! Realistically, this becomes problematic for me since I ruined that record many years ago, so unless there is another option, it would appear I have no hope of making the cut. Fortunately, God has provided us with another option – which essentially is our only option – and that is to trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf through which we can obtain His perfect record which God will accept in place of our tarnished one.
It is not that works are not important…James makes that very clear in the remainder of this chapter. It is just that the good works we do serve as validation of the faith we have in Christ rather than as some sort of entry fee that gains us access to God