James 2:12-13 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
You would think that this passage would be a powerful curative for legalism, but the legalistic seldom seem to recognize that this is in the Bible. Mercy is very closely connected to grace. It doesn’t deny that wrong has been done, but it withholds retribution. Those who pounce on deviations from what they see as Biblical orthodoxy have run completely afoul of this passage. It’s not that Biblical truth is in any way unimportant, but rather that love is far more important. Paul said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) He also pointed out the futility of piety without love in 1 Corinthians 13. John went so far as to say that “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) It goes without saying that love is merciful. This also relates closely to one of Jesus’ most horrible stories, of the man who refused to forgive a little when he had been forgiven much. (Matthew 18:23-35) To get back to what James said, he didn’t just say that mercy is superior to judgment, he said that mercy triumphs over judgment. In other words, no contest. Any time we forget how much mercy, grace and forgiveness have been lavished on us, we are in deep trouble.
I have never been one to nurse grudges, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respond strongly to some things. When people are insensitive to me, I’ve got to remember how often I’ve been insensitive to others. Actually, when people offend me in any way I need to remember that my sins nailed Jesus to the cross. I need to be obedient to what Jesus said: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me remember this consistently and extend to others the mercy that I so desperately need, so that together we may walk in what You intend for us, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!