Mercy is Better Than Judgment (James 2:8-13)

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God loves mercy. God hates sin and must punish it because He is a just God. But God is also love. God’s love moves Him to show mercy to sinners who humbly repent and turn to Him in faith. God takes no pleasure in the death and eternal punishment of those who reject His offer of salvation through Jesus. Christians are people who have received God’s mercy of free pardon for all their sins. The natural response to God’s mercy towards us is that we should be merciful people who are quick to love and forgive others who have done us wrong. Part of being merciful is not giving special treatment to people by loving only those we like and then withholding love from people we don’t like.

This is James’ logic in today’s passage where he urges Christians to avoid judging others and committing the sin of favoritism. When we favor some people and not others, we are not loving people with fairness as we should. We are sinning by not loving ALL of our neighbors as ourselves. And we know as Christians that even one sin is enough to make us guilty before God Almighty, the great Judge of every person who has ever lived. We want God Our Judge to pardon us and give us mercy and forgiveness. We want His “mercy” to “triumph over [His] judgment” when it comes to how he treats us. In the same way, therefore, our mercy towards others should win out over our desire to judge them for their wrongs. May we all receive God’s mercy by faith and be willing to show that mercy to ALL of those we encounter.

The Text

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Questions to Think About

  1. Why is favoritism a sin?
  2. How are you doing at loving your friends? How about your enemies?
  3. In what ways have you experienced God’s mercy in your life?
  4. Are you a merciful person? Would your friends and family call you merciful?

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