"So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:12-13).
Showing mercy is characteristic of a regenerate person.
Divine judgment has never been a popular topic of conversation. Godly people throughout history have been ridiculed, persecuted, and even killed for proclaiming it. In their efforts to win the approval of men, false teachers question or deny it. But James 2:12-13 reminds us that judgment will come, so we'd better live accordingly.
The basis for divine judgment is God's Word, which James called "the law of liberty" (v. 12). It is a liberating law because it frees you from sin's bondage and the curse of death and hell. It is the agency of the Spirit's transforming work, cutting deep into your soul to judge your thoughts and motives (Heb. 4:12). It gives you the wisdom that leads to salvation, and equips you for godly living (2 Tim. 3:15-17). It imparts truth and discernment, freeing you from error and spiritual deception. It is in every sense a law of freedom and liberation for those who embrace it.
The law liberates believers but condemns unbelievers. The phrase "judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy" (v. 13) speaks of unrelieved judgment in which every sin receives its fullest punishment. That can only mean eternal hell! If the Word is at work in you, its effects will be evident in the way you speak and act. If you are impartial and merciful to people in need, that shows you are a true Christian and have received God's forgiveness and mercy yourself. If you show partiality and disregard for the needy, the law becomes your judge, exposing the fact that you aren't truly redeemed.
Are you a merciful person? Do you seek to provide for others without favoritism? When you fail to do so, do you confess your sin and seek forgiveness and restoration? Those are marks of true faith.
Suggestions for Prayer
Praise the Lord for His great mercy toward you, and be sure to show mercy to those around you.
For Further Study
Read Luke 1:46-55 and 68-79. Follow Mary's and Zacharias's example by rejoicing over God's mercy toward His people.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.