“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.”
It is astounding how often the Scriptures assume that we will be intimately aware of the personal presence of the Lord. He is described as the Holy One. As we get to know Him in all of His glory we become aware of the reality of His perfection in Holiness and also of our great sinfulness. The story is told of the Baptist Preacher Alexander MacLaren that one day a friend came into his study and informed him of the gossip on the street that a certain Godly preacher in the city was not really a believer. MacLaren, not being a man who listened to gossip dismissed the news quickly by declaring that it could not possibly be true. He knew of the Godly character of the accused. To this his “friend” also informed MacLaren that the news on the street was that the same status was accorded to MacLaren. The response of this Godly man to this piece of news was to put the other gentleman out of his study with these words, “I must go before the Lord to determine whether this is indeed true.” The closer we walk with God the more we become aware of our own sinfulness. We must therefore conduct ourselves in such a way as to recognise that we are constantly in need of the grace and mercy of our God.
It seems that this is the perspective that James brings to his letter. We must live with a constant awareness that our Holy Lord is at the door, about to come into this world in judgment. He is at the door. We are about to stand before Him. Have we seen him as being absolutely holy, and as a result convicting us of our sin? Have we looked upon this Holy God hanging on the cross, pouring out God’s merciful love upon us? James brings us into this reality telling us that we have been set free in the Law of the Gospel, through which Christ has fulfilled all of God’s requirements by becoming the sacrifice of atonement for us. In Christ we are set free so that we can begin to live lives that are truly Christ like because we have come to believe in Him as our Redeemer. This brings us to stand in the presence of our Holy God as those who have received His mercy. As we stand in His presence we know that we deserve judgment, but we also see on standing at God’s right hand who has taken our place. The punishment that was ours He has endured for us. We have been crucified with Him, and been raised to new life in Him. We have been set free in Him all because His mercy has been poured out upon us.
He then sends us out into our world as those whose lives have been transformed by the mercy of God. He requires simply that we give what we have received. He has forgiven us therefore we must forgive one another. He has sacrificially loved us therefore we must love sacrificially. He sought us out, bringing us to receive His grace, and now He sends us out to be His servants reaching out to others with His Gospel of freedom. Even when they won’t receive it or us we must keep reaching out with this precious message, because we have received His mercy. Constantly we are aware of His presence. He is at the door and that changes everything.