James 3:2 contains these words: “We all stumble in many ways.”
Are those not some of the most encouraging words in all of Scripture? Here is James, the one-time leader of the Jerusalem church who wrote the book most concerned with faith and deeds as equally essential elements in the life of the believer. This book can be extremely convicting. But in the midst of this book are the words quoted above. Oh, what great news it is…It’s good to know I’m not alone!
Yes, I know Christians are sinners. Yes, I know we fail. But here is inspired Scripture, the word of God, and it infallibly describes me as I am, one who “stumbles in many ways.” Sometimes I intentionally stumble. Other times I unintentionally stumble. But, I stumble. What’s so wonderful about this passage is how it reminds me that God’s love for us is not based upon performance. If it were, my daily stumbling would bar me from God’s goodness and love. Jesus’ performance, however, does become the basis of my right-standing with God. Jesus never stumbled in any way. And, his life of perfection was lived for his people that they might be reunited with the love of God.
Good news? Great news!
For a performance driven world, this should come as a relief. The weight of expectations is removed from our shoulders. We acknowledge we sin “in many ways.” I fail. I lie. I cheat. I harbor anger, bitterness, fear, anxiety. I think things I shouldn’t. I say things, want things, etc. that are contrary to His will. Why? Because the old nature still exists like a parasite. One day, this parasitic nature will finally be removed. Oh, how I long for that day.
Until then, I realize His love is based not on my performance, but His character and love. His infinite love means there will never be a time where his love will decrease for me. After all, he loves me infinitely. Need proof? Look at the cross and look at the tomb. The sin was paid and his body raised.
Jesus will return. Until then, we who “stumble in many ways” should take these words from James to heart. James continues his work and in 4:7-10 writes, “submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
He will lift you up! Amen.