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Attitude Matters: James 2:1-13

Have Mercy!
Rick Wilcox

Sermon Summary

The early church was under pressure. James was writing to refugees who had fled Jerusalem under threat of death, leaving behind their homes, families, and employment. Life was hard, and the trials were felt in many ways, including economically. In Chapter 2, James begins by warning them to avoid the sin of showing partiality, saying it was judging another person and incompatible with our faith.

Our most straightforward understanding of this is right on the surface: Don’t treat people differently based on their status. Sure, it’s easy to see how that applies to money, but it doesn’t end there. We make distinctions among ourselves based on how another person makes our life better. We become preoccupied with focusing on ourselves, leading to a full range of selfish behavior – from the preferential treatment of others to ultimately adultery and murder. To put it bluntly – what good are they to me? James says this kind of thinking is evil.

In other words, if you fail to love God and other people, everything else falls apart. You can’t be religious enough or good enough or holy enough to overcome your failure to love God or other people.

But James says that’s not who we are! We are governed by liberty, and the law of liberty is the law that liberates. By the death of Jesus, we are liberated from the penalty of sin and find ourselves the recipient of unspeakable mercy by the love of God. James tells us to be merciful because mercy knows other people are also being shaped into Christlikeness through trials of their own, and mercy knows we have been forgiven much more than we are being asked to forgive.
Group Discussion with Video


READ> >
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.—James 2:1-13 (ESV)

WATCH> the video clip above

ASK> When was the last time you really felt under pressure, like the big truck right on Rick’s bumper? How did you respond? Did it affect the way your treated others? How?

ASK> How does favoritism amount to judging with evil thoughts or motives?

ASK> What is the “law of liberty” or the “law that gives freedom” mentioned in James 1:25 and James 2:12?

ASK> What does it mean that mercy triumphs over judgment?
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