Today’s Bible readings can be found at this link: Jeremiah 52:17-34 and James 2:1-13
James 2:12-13 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (NRSV)
Liberty is a big thing in the United States. Many of our folks would defend it at the cost of our lives and when we feel it is being suppressed or encroached upon, we speak out against those who are hindering or harming our right to be free. Our fierce independence is entwined with our liberty, so, therefore, it is not something to be trampled on or carelessly neglected.
However, James the brother of Jesus had a different notion about liberty because he associated it with acts of mercy. His belief as a Christian was that liberty is not the right to do what we want (that’s actually anarchy), it is a God-given, unalienable right which we should freely use to show mercy to others. In other words, because God graciously and mercifully grants us freedom, we should aspire to justly and liberally do the same.
Justice and mercy are the fruits of a free and faithful people. Liberty is not a selfish right we fiercely possess; it is a gracious gift that we as Christians should want to share. When we fail or deliberately choose not to show mercy, we place ourselves under God’s judgment, so we should be very careful about how we express our freedom. If we use it as a weapon to deny others grace, justice, and love, then we are in danger of giving God no other choice but to judge us by our own standards. So, let’s all try to live our lives as Christ once put it: ‘Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.’ (Matthew 5:7)
Application: Do I use my freedom to apply mercy to others, or am I guilty of preserving my liberty solely for myself?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You purchased God’s mercy for us by dying on the Cross even though we did not deserve such a gracious blessing. You freed us from the slavery of sin and selfishness. Challenge our ideas and opinions, as well as our hearts and minds, to not only receive Your mercy but to show the same to all. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest drawings based on the beautiful Micah 6v8 Bible verse. If you would like to view a larger version, please click here.