Nov 4, 2018 – Mercy Triumphs
Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series – James: Distilling Faith
James 2:1-13 (ESV)
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Becoming merciful is a crucial task for Jesus’ followers – we will consider four concepts from this passage that will help us.
- v1 “show no partiality”
- v4 “you have made distinctions and have become judges with evil thoughts”
- v1 “faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory”
- v2 “wearing a gold ring and fine clothing… shabby clothing”
- v5 “my beloved… has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?”
- v9 “if you show partiality, you are committing sin”
- v13 “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy”
- v13 “mercy triumphs over judgment”
- v12 “so speak and act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty”
Questions for Reflection
- What is it about being judged that you don’t like? Think about specific aspects of the experience.
- Is there a difference between wise discernment and being judgmental (partiality)? Compare and contrast.
- How invested are you in the opinions others have of you (or effected by them)? Do you do anything to try to control what others think about you?
- What do you value most? Is there anything common to all human beings that is of value (in people)? How would you define a “great” person (what is your ideal)?
- What reasons can be given for not being merciful? Think about your own objections to being merciful: is mercy really something we should value? Does your resistance to mercy exposes problems in your own way of thinking? Are you understanding mercy properly?
- How does Jesus demonstrate he is merciful?
- Do you believe you need God’s mercy? Why or why not?
- What does it look like to be merciful in your life? Think about a typical day: how do you look at those around you? How do you respond to people? What kinds of thoughts do you typically have after a bad interaction? What limits you from showing mercy?
- What choices can you make in any given moment to approach things with a heart of mercy?
Prayer of Confession
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. We cannot claim to uphold your law, but in thought, word and deed, we undermine the whole of it. Further, despite being guilty ourselves, we look with harshness on others. We lack compassion and empathy, and we judge with partiality. If you kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness. Thank you for the mercy you have shown us in Christ. Give us eyes to see your mercy with greater clarity so that we would see our world with greater mercy. Amen.