For whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. James 2:10
Forty-four-year-old British multimillionaire Jonathan Burrows was a man who had it made.
Working as a managing director for the BlackRock banking system, Burrows had a fine home in the country and a job that would make most people envious. Of course, that home in the country meant Burrows had to commute by train to his office.
Being a creative sort, Burrows figured out a way around the system. He would get on the train at an unmanned rural station outside London. Since he didn't buy a ticket, he saved himself about $20 a day in train fees. It was a fine plan until, one day, a ticket inspector figured out what he was doing.
Burrows was reported, and he settled out of court with the train company. The settlement had him pay $65,000, the total amount for the fees he had avoided over the years.
But there's more to the story of Jonathan Burrows' fall from favor.
Britain's Financial Conduct Authority reviewed his case and decided that his "conduct fell short of the standards we expect." They added, "Approved persons must act with honesty and integrity at all times and where they do not, we will take action."
Their action said Burrows was banned from ever working again in the financial services industry. Burrows' "small, little sin" had cost him his reputation, some cash, and employment in a good position. It was a terrible penalty to pay and one which neither Burrows -- nor anyone else -- is likely to forget.
The story of Burrows is one which ought to sound pretty familiar to us.
Think of Adam and Eve. All they did was bite down on one, small, piece of forbidden fruit. From our perspective it was a small sin, an almost inconsequential transgression. But to the Lord, Adam and Eve's disobedience was far more. They had shown they disregarded Him, rejected His authority, and His benevolence.
Think of ourselves. There are times when we, looking at some of the really big, serious sinners in this world, may think we're not so very bad. "Certainly," we say to ourselves, "the Lord isn't going to hold us accountable for such a trivial transgression."
Well, the Lord does hold us accountable. James lets us know that one sin is enough to make the perfect Lord upset. It is enough for the just Judge to declare us, "Guilty."
This is precisely why we need the Savior. There is no person so good he doesn't need Jesus -- no person so bad that Jesus can't help him. Yes, we need the Savior who, having given His life as the price to procure our forgiveness, welcomes us to Him and promises all who believe they have been given eternal life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks You have had mercy upon the big and little sinners of the world. Grant that my life may be lived in a way that tries to please and glorify the Savior whose substitution has forgiven me. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries