Read This Week’s Passage: James 4:11–17
Who Are You?
Several passages throughout Scripture seek to give the reader a correct view of themselves. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shared how God took care of the sparrows, and then asked, “ ‘Are you not of more value than they?’ ” pointing out God’s deep care for lesser creatures, and thus how much more is the value of every human life (Matt. 6:26). God sometimes directly asks about His listener’s identity to draw their attention to who they really are. In Isaiah, He asked His people, “ ‘Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass?’ ” (Isa. 51:12). He appealed to their identity as His people to demonstrate the foolishness of fearing another human. These passages and others like them focus on the need to value oneself as a child of God and see oneself more valuable than one might think, based on what God says.
In this week’s passage, James has a parallel goal in mind. Instead of elevating one’s view of self, James encourages his listeners to lower it when it has become too high. “Who are you to judge another?” he asks, pointing out that their identity did not come with judgment credentials (James 4:12). “What is your life?” he asks, pointing out that no human is eternal nor omniscient (v. 14). Though the earlier mentioned verses on the value of human life are possibly more encouraging outright, James’ words have the important function of providing a well-rounded view of oneself: every human is eternally valuable, loved, and cared for; at the same time, God is God and His creatures are just creatures after all. Understanding both enables a balanced view of oneself and of God.