The book of James is one of my personal favourites for its directness and practical nature. It is often my go to for that all important kick up the backside on how to live as a Christian in this world. Chapter 2 focuses on favouritism and the temptation, as the superficial and fleshly people we can be, to exclude or discriminate people based on their wealth, appearance or difference from us. We know Jesus looks past the superficial and to the heart. To place judgement or special attention to people based on what we see and perceive is falling well short of Jesus’ desire for us. We are encouraged to “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Do we want to be known as a judgemental church or a merciful one? Do you want to be known as a judgemental person or a merciful one? Who we are as individuals shape our church…. let’s be known as a merciful one!
Continuing on the practical nature of today’s readings we see the wonderful unity of scriptures in Proverbs 14. The wisdom of mercy, reverence of God, humility are encouraged and the pride and foolishness of judgement are warned against. In verses 20 and 21 “The poor are shunned even by their neighbours, but the rich have many friends. It is a sin to despise one’s neighbour, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.” Even in verse 31 we read “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God.” This beautifully compliments what we read in James.
As we check our attitudes and hearts we can give thanks to the author of mercy and grace and that through Christ we have the ultimate example of mercy being triumphant over judgement. And praise the Lord for that!