“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:8-9, ESV)
As we have learned quite violently over the last couple of years, mercy is in short supply in our world. There are cries for justice and retribution which often are really cries for vengeance from people who are eager to feel virtuous by condemning the sins of others while ignoring or downplaying their own,
What often passes for mercy in our world is actually tolerance of what the Bible labels as sin, but what our culture calls choices or an “alternate life-style.” Our culture is so overly tolerant of sin that it seldom judges anything that is wrong. Even then, those sins our culture does recognize such as child abuse, racism, race crimes, and mass shootings do not deserve mercy. They deserve only condemnation and punishment. There is no lack of judging, condemnation, hatred, holding grudges and taking revenge. Believers and nonbelievers alike love to judge and condemn those who do not agree with their politics, social agendas, worldview, or personal preferences. Mercy, they would claim, is only for those we like or love, those who agree with our views, not for our enemies.
For mercy to be given, one must acknowledge the seriousness of sin, before he or she can choose to forgive the guilty and spare them their just punishment. These words of James encourage us to have such mercy on others. Mercy fulfills the law of God’s kingdom. Condemnation and withholding forgiveness do not. Judgment without mercy will fall on all who do not show mercy. What we sow, we reap. If we sow hatred and bitterness we will reap the same. People will treat us the way we treat them. Didn’t Jesus Himself say “Judge not lest you be judged? For with the judgment you judge, you shall be judged.” He also taught us “Forgive us as we forgive others.” If we want to change the world and win people for Christ we must extend to others the mercy shown to us. We must show the world that the church is different. We have to show that the love and mercy of God is found in the body of Christ, that Jesus is alive in us, that He has changed us and He can change them too. Our faith must express itself in actions as well as attitudes and words. And in this way we can help people come to Jesus and find that He alone is the Savior of the world.