James 2 - Lesson

Do We Want Justice Or Mercy?

JUSTICE OR MERCY?

On the day of judgment (Mathew 12:36), do we want to receive justice or mercy?   The Bible teaches us that if we want to receive mercy, we must show mercy to others.  

  • “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” – James 2:13.

God wants us to show mercy to others, in fact, He commands it!   Shortly after choosing His twelve Apostles, Jesus spoke in front of a large gathering of His disciples.  He said to the crowd:

  • “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” – Luke 6:36

Too often we want justice when we are talking about somebody else, and mercy when we are talking about ourselves.  It does not work that way.  If we want to receive mercy on the day of judgment, we must show mercy to others. 

THE GOLDEN RULE

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Mathew 7:12.

If we want justice for everyone else, and mercy only for ourselves, we are being hypocritical, and God does not like hypocrites.   Consider the following three scriptures:

  1. “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.” - Mathew 23:2-4,
  2. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” - Mathew 23:25-26,
  3. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” - Mathew 23:27-28.

If we want to please God, we must treat people the way that we want to be treated!

FAITH AND WORKS

When it comes to our salvation, there is an important question that we need to ask ourselves:

“Is it our faith that saves us, our works, or both?”  

The following three scriptures make it clear that faith in Jesus is a requirement for salvation:  

  1. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9,
  2. “And without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6
  3. “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christand not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16.

And while faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation, it must be accompanied by works if we are going to be right with God.   The following four scriptures talk about the need to act on our faith if we are going to please God:

  1. “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?  Even so, faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” – James 2:14-17
  2. “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” – James 2:24
  3. “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” – James 2:26
  4. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” – James 2:18.

GROWING OUR FAITH

According to the Bible, there are two ways to increase our faith:

  1. Studying the Bible,
  2. P raying for increased faith.

Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans:

  • “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” –  Romans 10:17.

When we read the Bible, we are exposed to all the wisdom of God.   If we want to increase our faith, the first thing we need to do is commit to studying God’s word on a regular basis.

The second way that we can increase our faith is to ask God for more of it.   Sounds simple, right?

Luke 17 records the story of Jesus speaking to His disciples. When He had finished speaking, His disciples responded:

Just like the early disciples, it is important that we ask God to increase our faith.

CONCLUSION

We are all sinners (Romans 3:23).   When the day of judgment comes, we all will be seeking God’s mercy.   The Bible teaches us that if we want to receive His mercy, we need to show mercy to others.   That is exactly what the Golden Rule says, as recorded in Mathew’s Gospel:

  • “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Mathew 7:12.

In addition to showing mercy, we must study God’s word, and ask Him to increase our faith.  Then we need to act on our faith.  

We will end today’s lesson by revisiting the following two scriptures found in the book of James.   They remind us of the importance that God places on mercy and faith.   God wants us to work to grow our faith, and then to turn our faith into actions that serve others, and bring glory to Him:

  1. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” – James 2:18
  2. “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” – James 2:13.

Comments

Brenda

How can I help others during the COVID quarantine?

Reply
Michael
Brenda

That's a great question, Brenda. I think that everyone needs something different. The key for me is to check in on people and then take the time to have a conversation to see how they are doing. Once we get talking, I can ask them if they are struggling with anything. Some people are lonely and just want to talk.

Just making yourself available and offering your support is a great way to help during the pandemic.

What do you think?

Reply
Dan W

James challenges us to be real. To be faithful.

Reply