Give What You’ve Been Given
Read James 2:12-13 (ESV)
So speak and act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
As sinners, what did we deserve according to the law? As believers in Jesus Christ, what did we receive instead? How should this influence our interactions with others?
Do you truly understand what you’ve been given in Christ? I think many of us say that we do, but so often we take it for granted. We’ve been given mercy, forgiveness, grace, love, and eternal hope! We’ve been set free from the power of sin and death. Whenever I feel like I am failing to grasp the immensity of that gift, I spend some time pondering my sin. How have I grieved God? How have I trangressed His perfect law? How have I hurt the people around me? What did I deserve because of my sin?
But I only dwell on my sin long enough to feel remorse, confess my sins, and repent. Then, I focus on the gracious gift that I have been given in Him. I remember that in Christ, I am no longer condemned. But His gift of mercy is not a license to sin, rather, it is freedom from sin and Spirit-given power to obey.
That is why, in today’s verses, James urged his readers to speak and act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. What he means is that, even though we have been set free and sin and death no longer hold us captive, we still have responsibilities to fulfill. We will not be condemned but we will be asked to give an account for the words we speak and the things we do. If we are in Christ, we are called to obey “the law of liberty.”
James said that one command that we are called to obey is to be merciful to others. In fact, he wrote that if we don’t show mercy to others, we will receive judgment from God instead of mercy. What does he mean by that?
In the next couple days, we’ll spend more time thinking about the relationship between our actions and true, saving faith. For now, consider this: our actions, deeds, and lifestyle demonstrate the reality of our faith. If we are not willing to be merciful to others, what does that suggest about the state of our hearts? What does it expose about our faith?
If Jesus is the Lord of our hearts, our hearts should reflect His mercy. In Luke 6:36 Jesus commanded us: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
The apostle Paul wrote: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
The apostle Peter said: “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
One important clarification—James is not teaching that we can lose our salvation when we fail to be merciful. Nor is Peter teaching that we earn the blessing of our salvation by blessing others. That would be a works-based gospel, which is a false gospel—it is not good news at all! Instead, James, Paul, Peter, and even Jesus Himself, are reminding us all that we should imitate and reflect our merciful and gracious God. In Christ, that is what we are called to do. In Him, we are free to give to others what He has freely give to us.
Lord, You have blessed me beyond measure with Your great mercy and grace. Help me freely give the same to others. Use me to be a blessing, just as I have been blessed in You. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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