Summary: Pentecost 17(B) - God’s mercy triumphs over judgment when believers realize that mercy is the law of God’s love and mercy acts with deeds of love.
MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT
James 2:8-10; 12-18 - September 11, 2005 - Pentecost 17
Dear Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
Today we are going to talk about the deeds and actions of Christian faith. But before we do that, it is important to remind ourselves that the faith we have, which is our possession, is purely and simply God’s gift to us. There is not one of us here who has gone out of one’s way and earned faith. There is not one of us here good enough to buy faith, but by grace God has planted the seed of his word in our hearts and today you and I are believers. We gather together by God’s grace. Because of that, we know about God’s love, God’s mercy. Today we are told that mercy triumphs over judgment. The Lord reminds us that our faith, which is given to us by God’s grace, moves us to live our lives for Him.
Micah says, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God"(Micah 6:8). In humility, today we come before God’s throne of grace, again, realizing that we do not deserve any mercy. God still shows his mercy to us. Our text tells us, mercy triumphs over judgment. This is our theme:
God’s mercy triumphs over judgment:
I. Mercy is the law of God’s love
II. Mercy acts with deeds of love
I. MERCY IS THE LAW OF GOD’S LOVE
Please take the opportunity today (or this week) to read chapter 2 of James. James begins chapter 2 by talking about favoritism. There was a problem in the early church. The problem was that when people came in and were dressed nicely, the believers thought they were people of position and honor. They would put them at the front of the synagogue, considered to be the places of honor. James writes that is not really true. In the eyes of God everybody is the same, there are no favorites. God He doesn’t show favoritism and neither should believers.
Then we come to our text. James teaches about favoritism: "If you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers." James reminded them of the law which showed them their sin. He reminded them that when they showed favoritism, that was not a good thing. It sounds strange to us that they would do such a thing, but it was a practice in the early Christian church. The Jews would put those with honor and position in the front. They would make sure everybody saw that the important people were there in church. James reminds them to forget about that practice. It is a bad practice, bad tradition, or we might even call it bad liturgy. James reminds these believers, do not show favoritism. It is a sin.
James reminds them that they are all the same. What does he say in verse 10? "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. He says one sin is what condemns the person. Everyone is guilty of at least one sin. Since God doesn’t see favorites and neither should they. Instead they should look at people as their neighbor and love them. As our text began in verse 8: "If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ’Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right." So now we begin to see that James is trying to move God’s law beyond just the Ten Commandments, isn’t he? All too often the people of the New Testament times, because it was so closely connected to the Old Testament, could remember the Ten Commandments. The believers remembered that the Ten Commandments repeatedly said: "Don’t do this and do this."
In the New Testament the Lord God wanted them to expand their thinking. The Lord Jesus Christ wanted believers to remind themselves that the law was not just "Don’t do and do." The law also was summed up in that word "love—love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself." James continues: "Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom." They always thought the laws condemned and they were right. God’s law clearly condemns sin, but it also was going to give them freedom. A freedom to know the correct direction to take in their life, to knowing what was right and wrong, freedom then to live their lives in following God. James writes: "Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment." God’s mercy was going to triumph over judgment. Those who would follow in God’s footsteps would discover God’s mercy. They would see that mercy is God’s law of Christian love.