James 2:12-13 (the message)
Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets of free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.
My life is judged by the Rule that has set me free. Or, the way I see it, my life is judged by the way I measure out to others what has been given to me. What is this Rule that set us free? Love. God’s rule of love set us free…free from sin, from eternal separation from Him, from the past, from regret and shame, from our weaknesses and emptiness. There is nothing in life that we can’t be free from through God’s amazing love. And as we are set free in love, we are to minister love to others. Real love…God Love. So, tall order sometimes. Especially when we are confronting challenges of our own. Or maybe when our bodies aren’t cooperating and we feel less than our best. Certainly in times when we are wounded by those we are trying to love. And there is where my favorite part of this scripture brings our “this is too hard” mentality to a screeching halt.
Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time. I smile this morning because depending on your perspective, this verse will either comfort or challenge you! See, when we are struggling…when we are the ones who have wounded others…when we are the ones who keep tripping up over the same issues and sins, we cling to this life-preserver verse. God’s mercy wins over judgment every time. Every time! When we are broken, helpless, a pure mess!, and we come before Him just as we are we experience mercy….kind mercy. I believe this concept is hard for many of us to grasp. So often we experience the full-blown realities of our shame when others make sure we are aware and pay for the wrong choices we make. Here’s the thing: When we come to God with our mess, He doesn’t pretend we didn’t make it. Mercy doesn’t mean we push it under the rug or pretend it didn’t happen. Kind Mercy is the opposite of harsh judgment. In my experience, as I came to God with the residue of my filthy sin and wayward choices…as I came to Him quite broken from the mess I had made of my life, He didn’t deny my state. But as I humbled myself before Him, there was no slight of hand, there was no passive-aggressive I’ll forgive you but we’ll revisit this later. No, there was mercy. Like Rain Mercy. The kind that begins like those heavy drops in summer…sweet and refreshing…and before you know it you are soaked. Mercy makes the way for you to be soaked in the love of God. His kind forgiveness. His “let’s pick back up and head in the right direction, daugther”…His “It won’t be easy, but through me you can do all things” and “I still have a good plan for your life…it’s been waiting for you…” Can you see Mercy? The kindness of God? Oh, I grew up thinking I knew about mercy as most raised-in-church people do. But, can I tell you when I really discovered kind mercy? After I crashed into bits due to the sin and choices I had made. I tasted mercy, this sweetest of fruits, and it began to change my own heart toward other wayward folks. Sometimes you can’t extend true and kind mercy when you don’t think you have ever really needed it.
So, what about the other side to the coin? How does this idea challenge us? Perhaps your perspective right now is one of being the wounded. Perhaps your life-lens only sees the ways you have been mistreated. Goodness, you have to love God’s Word…the Bible says God’s Word is sharper than any two-edged sword. The Bible slices through to the truth. And the truth is, regardless of your wound-inflicting or wounded state, kind mercy still wins over harsh judgment. And our lives will be judged by the way we measure out what we have been given. Yes, that certainly includes mercy. I have grappled over extending mercy to others, believe me! I have struggled against grace and kind mercy! My heart cried out…God, do you see this?!…and yes, He saw. But you know what, all it takes really is a few moments of Holy Spirit honesty and I know that I can’t withhold mercy. I mean I have! But as we grow in Christ, as we experience the summer-sweet soaking of kind mercy in our own lives, it forever serves as a reminder of what we then give to others. See, when I’m hurt I must take it to God. Let God hear my rant and my pity-party. Let God wipe the tears. Let God’s love soothe the pain. And then, regardless of how tall the order, I can call on the mercy God has shown me. The truth is we want mercy for our lives, but we want judgment for others. But that isn’t living by the Rule of love…that just isn’t how God works…and it won’t bring freedom from the pain or offense.
Remember, mercy doesn’t mean we don’t set boundaries. Mercy doesn’t mean we don’t walk out the effects of our choices. But kind mercy is the “I’m on your side” as we walk this situation out to wholeness and God’s best for our lives. If you read this post and you have never found yourself sopping wet in the kind mercy of God, I pray you will let God speak to your heart. Because either you don’t believe or are afraid to believe in His mercy, or you are sorely deceived that you have never needed it to such a degree. Even as I write today, I find myself in a season of blessing and yet stretching all at once. A new season for me and my family in multiple ways…and yet in all God’s goodness I am confronted big-time with my own inability to do all things well! My Pastor encourages us to do “a few things well.” And I find this to be unbelievably wise advice. But for me today, my few things are a few more than they used to be when life was pretty much all about me. And in my few things I find myself physically tired, my mind full of ideas and need-to-do’s, and loads of new things to learn. Blessings all around…and yet I call out for His mercy today. I am weak, Lord! I could never do these things well without you, Lord! I can’t give to my husband and family in a healthy way without you, Lord! I can’t rightly influence those you have given me in wise and loving ways without you, Lord! I can’t not be grumpy without you, Lord!!!! I must lean head-long into His kind mercy every day. And along the way, be willing to extend this same mercy to those around me.
Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time. This is the way when Love Rules.