Jamesby Douglas Estes
James' final thoughts about the sin of showing partiality towards the rich over the poor take the form of a general calling for believers in Christ about the way we are to live in relation to God and others. He tells his readers pointedly, ″[so you] speak and [so you] act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom″ (James 2:12). In writing this way, he is emphasising both the words and the actions of the believer.
In what way are we to talk and live?
We are to talk and live as if God's great future for us is now. If we are in Christ, we will one day be judged by the law of Christ. But this law liberates, because it is a law that judges us not on what we say and do, but on our relationship to Christ. We are lawbreakers, and if we are judged by the law apart from Christ, we will be found guilty. But if we are bound to Christ, we are judged with Christ. We cannot be double-minded in the way we speak and act.
Therefore, since we have been freed by Christ and will one day be judged as such, we are to talk and live as if we have already been judged free. We are to speak and act in full anticipation of our glorification. We are to speak and act as full members of the kingdom of heaven.
If we don't, James notes, there is a consequence. When we show partiality to the rich and dishonour the poor, we are not showing mercy to the poor. We are judging them with our worldly wisdom and lack of godly compassion (v. 4). The consequence is that if we are not merciful to those in need, then God will not be merciful when He judges us.
James concludes with a proverb, a reminder, a shout-out for us: ″Mercy triumphs over judgment″ (v. 13)! God's mercy is proclaimed over God's judgment; when we show mercy, we proclaim the greatness of God far more than when we judge others.
Let us speak and show love to others without partiality and with mercy, liberally applied.
What is one practical way of living as people redeemed by the gospel? How can we show to others that we are not double-minded about our life with God?
In what situations can we show mercy even when we are tempted to judge?