Well James has really been digging up the soil, hasn’t he? He’s tampering with all kinds of things below the surface. This chapter reads like a treatment plan for selfishness. Selfishness seems to be the root of all our interpersonal struggles. It’s what tanks our prayer lives. It’s what allows us to make life work without considering God’s role in everything.
And what’s the treatment plan? I say treatment plan because there’s no cure. It seems to be a combination of sorrow and grace. Sorrow for how selfish we are and the state of our relationships, and grace that covers it. Without the sorrow, there’s no need for grace. The two are symbiotic.
I realize I normally think of grace as something that, theoretically anyway, eliminates sorrow. But maybe grace balances sorrow and gives us strength to carry on. The sorrow makes us want to live differently. And we need that. And grace allows us not to endlessly beat ourselves up about it. We need that too. Together they’re the treatment plan for selfishness. Lose one or the other, and it falls apart.
At any given moment, I’m often without one or the other. And when I lose one, I lose the other. Which one do you lose first? How might we hold onto both in our individual lives? How about our mutual church life? How would grace and sorrow enter into the ways we talk and listen to each other?