“I commit to examine myself and deal with my own sin, whether anyone else ever does or doesn’t.”
And I am bringing a couple things James says in verse 8 and then 9 together.
“Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.”
Which is a big part of what humility looks like.
In a conflict situation.
The humble person before he gets to the other person and what they did wrong, he evaluates himself.
Which sounds like a simple thing.
But I can hardly think of a time where I ever talked to people who were having conflict and asked them what was wrong and had one of the person say, you know, first I just want to say I sinned and I need to repent.
It’s almost always.
This is what the other person did.
We are really good at seeing other people’s failings and other people’s sins and really poor at seeing our own, and the humble person knows that.
I don’t think the proud person really recognizes that about himself.
He’s like if I can’t see it, then I must not have done anything wrong, but he doesn’t realize just how blind he is, to actually seeing what is going on in his own heart.
But the humble person does.
And so he doesn’t just rush in, pointing all these fingers at everyone else, he’s like, Lord what have I done wrong?
James says, cleanse your hands, you sinners.
Hands representing what a person does.
Because we are so poor at seeing our own sins, it might be that the humble person actually asks for help.
He might get someone and say you know what, I don’t want to get into everything I think the other person has done wrong, so keep that to yourself, but I want to share this story, and I want you to help me see me, and if there is anything I need to repent of.
Either in my actions.
Or even my heart.
James says purify your heart, you double-minded.
And this is the really hard part to see, what you wanted, and your motives.
Now I obviously don’t think the humble person always just says I am the only one who sinned and it’s all me, because that might not be true, but I do think, when a humble person gets in a conflict, he is committed, to really searching himself out, before he goes too deep in talking about what the other person’s done, and you know, when he sees areas in his life, where he did sin, he doesn’t defend, he repents.
He takes it serious.
Which is some counsel, isn’t it?
Can you imagine going to your pastor with a problem and having him say I know what I want you to do?
But James knows the people he’s writing to, and he knows one of their problems is they just taking their own sin seriously enough, and so he’s like you know what, you need some time, you need to mourn over your sin.
And that’s something I think probably most of us need to hear, especially when we are in a conflict.
Because whose sin are we usually crying about when we are upset?
It’s usually other people’s sins that we are so sad about.
This is such a typical pattern for us, when we are proud, we are all so worked up about what other people have done, and yet, when someone points out we are doing pretty much the same exact thing ourselves, we are like, it’s nothing.
It doesn’t even touch us.
And that’s obviously a big problem, and that’s why I think, you know what, before I ever go in hot to confront someone about their sin, it’s very important I slow down, and say, how upset am I about my own?
I guess it’s interesting to me too, that this is a command.
Because we normally think of those as responses, not something we have to actively seek to do, but I think James is saying, there is a place for us to slow, and just look long and hard at what’s going on in our own hearts, and to be sad about it.
We don’t stay there as Christians, forever, because Jesus came to provide forgiveness for our sins, but it’s hard for us to appreciate the extent of that forgiveness, if we are not ever slowing down, and just remembering our need for it.
And, one of the times, when it is especially important for us to commit to humbling ourselves like that, is when we are in the middle of a conflict.
We don’t ever allow ourselves to relate to other people as if they were somehow more needy of grace and forgiveness than we are.