I love reading and writing.
Because words affect me so deeply, I know how much they can heal or hurt. So I used to be very judgmental toward people who were careless—and thus, hurtful—with their words.
This changed when God led me to realize that linguistic proficiency was a strength He had bestowed me with; it didn’t come as naturally to others. At the same time, He showed me that there were areas of weaknesses in my life that were strengths in the lives of others.
Punctuality, for example, is something I have trouble with. God highlighted to me that just as I would desire others to show understanding toward me when I showed up late, so too should I extend that same kind of grace to others who struggle with language.
We all have a tendency to judge others, not just for their weaknesses, but also when they fall short of God’s commands. And this is made worse when favoritism is involved (2:8-11). But James tells us to “speak and act” mercifully toward others (v. 12), because we are all “going to be judged by the law” (v. 12)—the law of Christ which provides freedom from sin through the gospel (also seen in 1:25).
Though we know that as believers, there is no condemnation for us because of what Jesus has done for us (Romans 8:1-2), this does not mean that we will not be judged, or in other words, called to give an account to God for our deeds and words one day (2 Corinthians 5:10).
So, we would do well to treat others with mercy if we desire to be judged by Him mercifully, “for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2).
Jesus teaches, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). In the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35), He also cautions us that if we treat others unmercifully, God will also treat us the same way. James echoes this in verse 13.
James goes on to say that “mercy triumphs over judgment” (v. 13), because God delights in mercy (Micah 7:18). Since our Father is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4), we fulfill this desire of His heart when we are merciful toward others in wisdom and cheerfulness (Romans 12:8).
We are our Father’s children when we cherish the same things He cherishes, acting toward others in the same way that He would.
—Raphael Zhang, Singapore
Questions for reflection
1. What areas do you tend to judge others most harshly about? What might help you to be more merciful to others in these areas?
2. Do you see the law of Christ/law of liberty as something that gives you freedom? What might help you further grow in enjoying God’s law, as He lovingly planned for you to do?
Hand-lettering by Rachel Tu
Raphael enjoys reading and writing, and experiences them as means of connecting with the Word too beautiful for words. He believes there’s no such thing as having too many books. Having been led by Jehovah-Rapha to journey out of brokenness toward wholeness, he is passionate about bringing God’s healing to others, so that the brokenhearted can become wholehearted in loving God and people with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. He’s also crazy about cheeses, but his greatest love is still Jesus.