James 2:13. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
We live in a world full of judgment. We are judged and we judge others for just about everything. The way we look, the clothes we wear, the color of our skin, the car we drive, the school we attend, past mistakes, present circumstances, children’s behavior, the church we attend…judgment is universal and unending. It’s in the TV shows we watch (American Idol, the Bachelor, Survivor). It’s in the way we educate our children (grades, gold stars, report cards). And it’s in the way we relate to God (penance, confession, guilt).
Why is judgment so ingrained into us? Because judgment is real. There is a standard, and there will be a judgment day related to that standard. Make no mistake, it’s coming. God will hand over judgment to the Son, Jesus Christ, and he will judge all of mankind. As much as I wish I was making this up, I’m not. A great reckoning is coming based on the “perfect law.” And there is no grading on the curve. You either kept all the law or you didn’t. Period.
James 2:10. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
So far so terrifying.
But James reminds us that there is good news – Mercy triumphs over judgment.
God’s mercy has made a way for us. And that way is Jesus. He is the living, breathing, ruling love of God. He is enthroned on the mercy seat of Heaven. By his law keeping he has become our substitute. In his dying for us he has taken all the penalty of our sin, and all the power of sin over us, and cast them both into the “sea of forgetfulness.” Then, by his resurrection, he has granted us his eternal life. His imputed righteousness. His covenant of love and grace. Forever.
That’s mercy! Unearned. Undeserved. Mercy.
And mercy changes everything. Including judgment day.
James 2:12. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.
Yes, Christian, you will be judged under the law. That is a universal truth that none can escape. All will be judged, and the perfect law of God will be the standard by which we are judged. Anything less would make God less. Less than holy. Less than righteous. Less than just. Less than fair. But notice in 2:12 above, James calls the law the law of liberty (see day 174). We will be judged one day, but we will be judged under a standard that actually brings our acquittal not our conviction. How? Because our union with Christ has transformed the law from a standard that brings condemnation into a gift that brings clarity and conformity into Christ’s likeness.
Do you believe this? Can you see the deep mercy you have received in Christ? Are you experiencing it today? If you are, then you will so speak and so act differently. When you realize that God’s mercy has triumphed over your deserved judgment, it will change how you relate to others. Your judgment of others will fade away. And mercy will take its place.
For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.
How do we know that someone is in Christ? Or more personally, how can you know that YOU are in Christ? Do you show mercy? The one who shows no mercy will receive no mercy on judgment day. Why? Because they didn’t receive God’s mercy as a gift BEFORE judgment day. You can only give what you have received. And when you have received Christ’s life of mercy, that same mercy will flow out of you toward others.
So let me ask you, are you merciful? Are you kind? Forgiving? Peaceful? Considerate? Helpful? Or are you quick to judge? Quick to get angry? Quick to condemn? Quick to blame? Does mercy triumph over judgment in your marriage? Your family? Your friendships? Your church life? At work? Online? Or is judgment triumphing over mercy?
If so, then let your heart run back to the triumphing mercy of God found in the cross of Christ. Soak in his mercy for you today. Before work. Before answering emails. Before going on Facebook. Before any conversations. Before watching the news or listening to talk radio. Before you do anything else behold the mercy of God. And then speak and act like the child of mercy that you are. That’s “to live is Christ.”
Do you tend to be judgmental? How?
You in Christ
How can you soak in God’s mercy each day? What practice might you need to put in place?
Christ in you
Where can mercy triumph over judgment in your relationships today?
Playlist: songs of God’s mercy.