Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment
James 2:12-13 says 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!
I think that it is easy to read this and see only, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged,” but what are we being judged by? By the law that gives freedom. James is showing a new or different standard; there is a judgment without mercy (v. 13), but we are going to be judged by a law that gives freedom. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Love triumphs over evil.
We are to speak and act as people who are judged under mercy and freedom. We give away what we have received from the Lord, and we trust that the way of mercy is the best way. Judgment without mercy is given to those who do not show mercy, but we have been judged with mercy.
Mercy Leads Us to “Do”
James 2:22-23 is a call to be do-ers of the Word, not just hear-ers. A worthy call. I think that we as Christians should be authentic, living what we say we believe (I believe that Steven Curtis Chapman said it best with, “It’s got to be true, I gotta’ be living’ what I say I believe, even if nobody but Jesus is watchin’ me. G-O-T T-O-B T-R-U.”). However, there is a lens of law and a lens of grace. Law says, “Do it because I said so, and if you don’t you don’t measure up.” On first glance, that is what James is saying. But grace says, “I have given you all you need to ‘do’; I have loved you first; therefore ‘do’.”
James 2:25 gives that grace motivation. If you look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom (there's that concept again!), and continues to do this, he will be blessed in what he does. There is a correct order – look into the law that gives freedom, and then be a do-er of the Word. If you “do” from the position of freedom, there is blessing.
I wonder if James, who addresses his letter to the 12 tribes scatterd, is writing to a Jewish-Christian audience, and so he uses the law a lot, knowing their tendency to depend on the law for right-standing with God. Could it be that he is revealing the inability of the law to bring righteousness, calling them to depend on mercy and grace.
Coming up next: Context, Context, Context! and Smackdown... Or is It?