Judging ourselves is a very important part of growing in faith, because it can help us avoid many pitfalls. In the verses just prior to this James warned us not to discriminate or judge others and to live in the “Royal Law of love.” James then warns us to judge ourselves.
We don’t judge ourselves by our own standards or ideas though, but as James says, by the “Law that gives freedom.” This is the key to helping to regulate our own lives, the “Law that gives Freedom.” You see in our fallen state most of humanity would struggle with judging themselves. Some of us judge ourselves too harshly, as we remember past sins and mistakes and never get around to forgiving ourselves. We carry the pain and hurt of our own lives into the relationships we have with others. We struggle with accepting that God’s “Law of Freedom” is a gift of forgiveness, a gift of grace. James had reminded us in chapter 1:25 that we must not look at the “perfect law” and forget what it says. Yet, many people struggle to forgive themselves, and are keeping themselves in their own prison of pain.
When it comes to relating to others many struggle, because they can’t forgive or let go of pain. When we go through situations with others we may find ourselves hurt by words or actions. Human nature wants retribution and even revenge. James reminds us that the “Law of freedom” is a law of mercy as well. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (v.13), he writes. If we struggle with accepting the mercy of God and understanding his free gifts to us, it is only natural that we will struggle to show mercy to others. When we stop showing mercy and forgiveness freely toward others we begin to let judging attitudes over shadow God’s mercy in our lives.
I’ve watched many people over the years destroy relationships with church friends, neighbors, and even their own families simply because they never took the words of James to heart. They stopped judging themselves and their live by God’s “Law of freedom”, but instead built walls of anger, bitterness, pettiness, and personal perfectionism. They forgot to live in God’s “Law of Freedom”, which is His free grace. They forgot to share it with their own heart, and couldn’t pass it on to others around them. Sadly, they often find themselves feeling alone and more bitter than before, because they have shut out a “Law of Freedom” which restores hearts, friendships, and relationships.
We cannot truly go back in time and take back mistakes made, words said, or actions done. But, we can learn to live our lives in God’s mercy, grace and love we can begin today to let go of the past and build new relationship. James is inviting us to do that, as we learn to judge ourselves in this “Law of Freedom”, this law of mercy.
Take some time to seriously consider if you really live in God’s mercy. Have you truly accepted that He forgives your sins and wants a friendship with you? Have you let him heal the hurts and pains in your heart? When it comes to others around you, are you able to treat them with the same mercy you are shown? Are you able to seek forgiveness and show forgiveness?
Live today and always in the “Law of freedom”.
Father God, help us today to learn to accept your love, mercy and grace in our own lives. Fill our hearts with your Holy Spirit, so we can learn to let go and heal. Heal hearts that are broken, so that they may grow and make new relationships in you and with others. We know you are in the business of healing and rebuilding lives, so we ask that you do that in all of us today. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.