Mercy triumphs over judgment.
These were James’s words to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations some 2000 years ago. These are God’s words to me today.
More fully …
“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!” –James 2:12-13
Notice, judgment and mercy are not separated here. They co-exist. Accordingly, there can be reasonable judgments made, but they must be triumphed by mercy … coated, bathed, and lavishly immersed in grace.
Because this is how Jesus lived. This is how Jesus loved … loves. He is the God of both – judgment and mercy. No mercy can be applied to a heart if a heart hasn’t first crossed the line requiring it.
Accordingly, we should follow Christ’s lead – mercy enough to bathe judgment. We should not offer mercy as a way of gaining the upper hand … of somehow thinking that our generous grace towards others places us in God’s higher regard. Instead, we should offer mercy because the upper, outstretched hands of Jesus Christ have extended wide and long and high and deep on our behalf. When we forget this, when our offers of mercy are motivated by personal pats on the back, then we’ve missed the grace of God entirely. It becomes all about what we have done rather than about everything that Christ has done for us, in us, and ultimately, through us.
In this day of doing faith and living grace, there will be someone who crosses your path in need of mercy. Judgment abounds (and in many cases rightly so), but judgment without the cross of Jesus Christ standing as a guiding light to monitor your responses will never advance the kingdom. At least, not through you. Not through me.
So I stand here today, close to the cross. Leaning into it, clinging onto the splintered, bloodied beams knowing that without this mercy-laced judgment, I am left as I am, incapable of loving the most excellent way.
That excellent way?
Mercy triumphing over judgment. If I’m going to live anywhere, let me live there. Let me grow there. Let me love from there.
Keep to it, faithful pilgrims. It’s a good way … the grace-way to move the kingdom forward. As always …
Peace for the journey,