Faith and Judging Others

Yesterday, we looked at the issue of partiality, of favoring one group of people over another. Not only were these early Christians out of step with reality, but they were also out of step with God's way. Today, we'll look at God's way and why James is making such a big deal out of treating people equally.

Here is James 2, verses 8-13.

8 “Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. If, however, you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all. 11 For he who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. So if you do not commit adultery, but you murder, you are a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”— James 2:8-13

When Jesus said, "love your neighbor as yourself," the legal expert asked Him, "Who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:25-37 quoting Leviticus 19:18) What follows is the parable of the Good Samaritan, a story about loving others despite what that person can or can't do for you. So, this is pretty appropriate for James to bring up here.

Yesterday, we read that showing partiality makes us judges. When we decide for ourselves who is worthy or not worthy of our time, our attention, or our care, we are assuming the wrong role in God's Kingdom. We are not judges. We are merely witnesses.

We're simply not worthy to pass judgement on anyone. We're lawbreakers. James reminds us here that if we break one part of the law, we break the whole thing. The law is a pass/fail scenario. Does being a good husband give me the right to have an affair? Of course not. Look at so many in the news whose life-long careers mean nothing now due to a particular failure or crime.

James says "mercy triumphs over judgment." The real Judge, instead of giving us what we deserved, granted us mercy. So, if we have faith, being a doer of the Word includes treating others the way Christ treated us.

Remember yesterday, in verse one, James called the church "believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ" (NIV). Christ's glory is not in the gold bands on someone's arm. Christ's glory is in the cross, a selfless act of redemption that obligates us to the law of freedom, freedom from partiality and judgment.

James reminds us that there is no mercy for those who show no mercy. (Matthew 7:2) This was the Greek lex talionis, the law of retribution. But the law of freedom offers mercy to those who show it (Matthew 5:7). Mercy triumphs over judgment. Every time.

Let's pray.

“Lord, when we assume the role of judge, remind us of the mercy You showed us. May we speak and act as witnesses to that mercy as we learn to love our neighbor. Amen.”

Tomorrow, we'll get into those difficult verses about faith and works, and how it all ties together.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

This devotional was written and read by Brandon Abbott. Brandon is the Connection Minister at the Church at Station Hill. You can read more about him here.