I hear it all the time, “All sins are the same in the eyes of God.” It is said with good intentions, I suppose. No one is worse than anyone else. God loves us all the same, like Grandma. Ask Grandma whether she loves you or your brother best. “I love you both the same,” her answer every time. God and Grandma–they don’t pick favorites.
No one is better, therefore no one is worse, they say, and point to James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” See! No one sin is worse than any other. But is that what this verse says?
Every sin, no matter how big or little, is equally effective in separating us from God. That is the point of James 2:10. Why? Because the standard is “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). It does not matter if you miss by an inch or a mile, you missed. Whether you sin badly or not-so-badly, you miss the standard, and you need saving and you need grace and you need Jesus.
On the scales of God’s judgment, however, we find disparity. Some sins weigh heavy, others not so much, and it may surprise us to see which sins are punished most severely. Exodus 22 is a lengthy list of crimes and punishments. In the first 15 verses, every one who does wrong gets fined. In the next nine verses, they die. The punishments increase because the sins worsen. All sins are not the same, the worse the sin, the greater the punishment. Look what happens when you mistreat aliens or orphans or widows. “My wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless” (Exodus 22:24). Ouch!
Tells you something about the heart of God, doesn’t it?
Almighty God, Your ways are truly so much higher than mine. I’m amazed that You are concerned about me, who I am and what I do. You care about my everyday life. It is so good to know what is right and what is wrong, how You expect us to treat each other, what is pleasing in Your eyes. Thank you, Lord, for showing us Your laws that lead to the good life–a life marked by right living. Help me God to remember how personal you are, that You are very close, and that You will lead me. I need to follow!
God, make me keenly aware of those who most need my attention. Give me a heart of compassion for the outcasts, the weak, the poor, and the helpless.