…Mercy triumphs over judgement. James 2:13
Mercy! Our kids loved to wrestle with each other when they were little. If things got out of hand, the one who felt overpowered could cry,”Mercy!” Their signal of surrender. All tickling and roughhousing (at least in theory) was to cease. Mercy calls out to the stronger to acknowledge the weaker one in their plight and show compassion.
Mercy is laced throughout the Bible. It’s is at the heart of God’s motivation for our salvation. Yet mercy is sometimes treated as a lesser virtue. Mistaken for mere sentimentality or emotionalism, mercy is seen by some as weak. James wants us to put mercy in its rightful place. Mercy is worthy of our deepest respect, he argues. It’s the social code by which believers are called to live.
James exhorts followers of Jesus to a life of words and deeds governed by mercy:
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. James 2:12,13.
The Key Word Study Bible contains a thorough description of mercy, which became part of my meditation this morning as I pondered the verses in James:
Mercy, or eleos in the Greek, describes the compassion in which one undertakes to “alleviate another’s misery and relieve their suffering.” Mercy is “any act which attempts to adddress the plight and wretcheness of others.”
Jesus used the story of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate eleos, or mercy: (Luke 10:37). “Love and Loyalty for Yahweh were measured in the manner of one’s dealing with others. To be hard-hearted, letter-of-the-law insistent, and umoved by any extenuating circumstances violated the spirit of the law.”
Mercy characterizes the way God treats me. Thus, it should characterize the way I treat others. Pure and simple. It doesn’t get any clearer than that. Now you know why I love my Big Fat Greek Bible! Much to think about as I go about my day.
Lord, slow me down today. Show me what causes my heart to be hard at times…resistant to giving or receiving mercy. I pray for a new vision of mercy as the true heart of the Savior. Make me alert to opportunities to show eleos to one of Your children. -Amen.