For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law. So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
James 2:10-13 NLT
James just taught us the importance of not showing favoritism. Don’t be prejudiced about how you treat people. Now he wants to drive this truth deeper by letting us know if we fudge in one area of obedience we are in total disobedience. There is not a sliding scale of obedience. My failure in one area makes me a sinner just like the person who fails in multiple areas. Partial obedience to the Word of God is total disobedience. I can’t judge myself based on being less of a sinner than someone else. Then James makes this interesting statement about the law. He calls it “the law that sets you free.” I have always viewed the law as bondage. It’s a list of dos and don’ts that makes life difficult. How can this be the “law that sets you free?” Here is the great truth, the law of God shows us the way to live in freedom. When we choose to obey God’s law, we are choosing freedom. When we rebel against God’s law, we are putting ourselves in a position of bondage. Sin is bondage. Obedience is freedom. Don’t lie and don’t steal are part of God’s law. When I always tell the truth and don’t steal from others I live in freedom because I don’t have to worry about being caught in a lie or caught with something I stole. I am free to live in peace because I am living in obedience to the law. There are a lot of people living in fear, worry, and anxiety that is caused because of sin they have allowed in their lives. The guilt and shame of sin puts them in bondage. Confession and repentance lead to freedom and forgiveness. Freedom and forgiveness will give us peace and allow us to rest. James concludes this section by letting us know when we are merciful to others, we release God’s mercy for ourselves. Mercy triumphs over judgment. I have chosen as a life mission to always err on the side of mercy and grace. I am not the judge of everybody else. God is the judge. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts of sin—not Darius. My job is to show mercy and grace. I want to show lots of mercy and grace so that I receive God’s mercy and grace. As we release God’s grace and mercy through us to others, we release God’s grace and mercy to ourselves. When mercy is released through us, mercy is released to us.
Father God, please help me to obey fully Your Word. Help me to know Your Word so that I can experience true freedom. Help me to also live a life as a mercy releaser. Help me to show mercy and grace regularly to others.
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