JAMES 2:13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. (mercy triumphs over judgement)
I have been studying the book of James yet again. There’s something about this book that I can’t get away from. Theologians call it “The Proverbs of the New Testament” – and for good reason. I call it the meat and potatoes of the Bible. It’s just 5 chapters of wisdom. How to live: according to the brother of Jesus.
So, I was reading this morning and came across this verse in chapter two, which I am sure I had read about 100 times over the years, and it stuck out like a camel at a rodeo (gotta say stuff like that now that I’m a Texan). Because I had just started this series on grace and mercy, I saw the word mercy and decided to dwell on this a bit. It’s terrifying.
Anyone who claims that the Christian has no obligations outside of receiving Jesus as their Lord and Savior has never read the book of James. This one little verse is enough for me to make that assessment.
The Bible tells us that all Believers are judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12). Although our salvation will not be at risk during this time of judgement, or eternal rewards will be. We are told that those things that are made of “wood, hay and stubble” will be burned up. God will be looking for those things that are made of “gold, silver and precious stones”.
The book of James deals quite a bit with motives and works. It is here that we find the famous scripture “Faith without works is dead.”(James 2:20) In this chapter he is focusing heavily on the impartial treatment of the rich and poor. We can translate this into any area of society; the difference between young and old, smart and dumb, black and white, republican and democrat (yes, I said that), man and woman, or just about any other comparison you can come up with.
James is teaching a concept to a community of ex-jewish believers. This community is learning how to go from one belief system to another one that is brand new and groundbreaking. Nothing has changed. As we grow in the Lord we are in our own hearts forging new ground. No one understands the gospel upon receiving Jesus into their hearts and becoming part of the Christian family. It’s a learning process. We are in no better or worse position than these early believers. The words of James are just as important now as they were then.
No one is to be exempt from this new family. It doesn’t matter if you have things in common or not. It doesn’t even matter if you particularly like a person. As a child of God who was forgiven and set free from the bondage of sin and death you are required by the mercy of God to extend mercy to all; impartially. In essence, James is telling us that if we are without mercy toward man then we are not functioning within the mercy of God.
Do you remember in the book of Matthew when Jesus talks about the man who is forgiven of a great debt but then refuses to forgive a much lesser debt that is owed to him? If not, read about it in Matthew 18. If the man had truly been grateful, he would have gladly forgiven as he had been forgiven. If we truly understood the depth of darkness that we were pulled out of and the mercy we were shown by God, we would have no choice but to extend the same mercy to others. I am preaching to myself here just as much as anyone else. I am learning grace and mercy too!
Next time you are at church, or in the park, or at the grocery store, or anywhere else! I want you to be cognizant of your thoughts toward people. Do you think good thoughts toward the good looking cashier and bad thoughts toward the not-so-good-looking bag boy? Do you consider the well dressed couple in the middle section of the church to be of more value than the guy in a t-shirt and shorts wearing a baseball cap? How about the tatted up, metal faced, punk kids sitting on the bench by the movie theater? Are they less worthy of the love and mercy of God?
Child of God! Wake up! We are called to love and be loved. We are required to show the same mercy toward others as God has shown us. Please share your comments below. I greatly desire to hear from all those silent blog readers out there!