“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” (James 2:10)
James 2:10 is a sober reminder.
At the start of chapter 2, James warns his readers about sinning through favoritism. Verse 10 suggests the readers saw themselves as righteous because they minimized this sin. This is yet more evidence that human nature hasn’t changed. How often do we slip into ranking the 10 Commandments as greater or lesser commands?
Maybe we fall into the trap of placing greater emphasis on fulfilling the negative commandments more than the positive commandments. For example, we might be careful not to steal (7th Commandment) while not remember the Sabbath for a month (3rd Commandment).
Maybe we allow the earthly consequences of breaking commandments to move us to tacitly rank commandments. After all, in our society the price for committing murder (5th Commandment) is almost always more severe than for lying (8thCommandment).
From this point, it’s a short step to viewing breaking some commandments as sinning but breaking other commandments as making poor choices. That’s where James 2:10 intervenes. Before God, all sins are equal. If we break one commandment, we’ve broken them all.
Praise be to God that Christ’s forgiveness of sins is also equal. Jesus’ death and resurrection earned the forgiveness of all sins for all people. It is the law of God that makes us aware that we need God’s grace. How deeply reassuring to find that, because of Jesus, we have already received pardon for all our sins.
(These weekly devotions are written for the congregations of the Ohio District – LCMS)