8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
This is a challenging passage to digest.
We are called to love our neighbour as ourselves and as the verses earlier point out, not to favour the rich and ignore the poor. Just as we have received mercy through Jesus we are to operate out of it in our dealings with others. As we do not keep the law perfectly, we are relying on God’s mercy to save us, therefore we cannot justly deal with others in any way other than with mercy. We are all equally dependent on God’s mercy, being made holy in Christ does not elevate us above those who have not yet accepted Christ. All have fallen short and all need Jesus.
The commentator Adam Clarke makes this statement about how this concept might be practically applied, “A merciful man rejoices rather in opportunities of showing mercy, than in acting according to strict justice.” Do I rejoice in opportunities to show mercy? Or do I have more conviction around what I perceive is fair for me? What is due to me? Do I delight in giving mercy or demand of others a perfect standard that I cannot live up to myself?
God, please soften my heart and help me to walk daily with an awareness of my dependence on your mercy. Fill me with your Spirit and create in me a mercy heart for others. Let me rejoice in opportunities to show mercy and let go of my hold on strict justice. God, I cannot try to do this on my own, I invite you in to change me from the inside out. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh