James 2 - Lesson

Mercy, faith, and works

On the day of judgment, will you want justice or mercy?

On that day, all of us will want mercy. If we want to receive mercy, we must extend 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 us to be merciful.

Shortly after choosing His 12 Apostles, Jesus spoke in front of a large gathering of His disciples. In what is commonly referred to as The Beatitudes, Jesus said to the crowd:

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

Too often it seems that 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 mercy to be extended towards us, we must extend mercy to others. That is what the Golden Rule is all about:


  • 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.

What about faith and works?  Is it our faith that saves us, our works, or both?  Let us see what the scriptures have to say.

Regarding faith:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16.

Regarding works:

  • 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.

  • You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” – James 2:24.

  • For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” – James 2:26.

  • 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.

As God’s children, we are to put our faith into action. This starts with a solid understanding of God’s word.

If we want to increase our faith, we need to consistently study God’s word so that we know how to apply it. Consider the following scripture written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans:

  • “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17.

Bible study is critical to our salvation!

If we do not know what God’s commandments are, how can we be expected to keep them?

As we study the Bible, we will see great examples of people with strong faith putting their faith into action. There may be no greater example of this than what is referred to as, “The Faith Hall of Fame” found in Hebrews 11.

  • “By faith, Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he was attested to be righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.   By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for before he was taken up, he was attested to have been pleasing to God.  And without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.   By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he left, not knowing where he was going.   By faith he lived as a stranger in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;  for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.   By faith, even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” – Hebrews 11:4-11.

In conclusion, God wants us to choose mercy over judgment – to be compassionate people. He also wants our faith to be strong enough that it produces works.

We will conclude today’s lesson by revisiting the following two scriptures:

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



How can I help others during the COVID quarantine?


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?

Dan W

James challenges us to be real. To be faithful.