Updated: Jul 12, 2020
The Bible says “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:12-13)
“Mercy triumphs over judgment.” What does God mean by this declaration? Is God condoning sin? Not at all! God is reaffirming what He told us in other places in the Bible. Judgment is reserved for God alone. No human being has the right to judge another human being. By the statement God is telling every one of us to continue to love and be merciful to everyone even when they have clearly fallen into sin. He did not say to embrace their sin or dismiss their sin as good. He warned us to be careful when helping anyone who was ensnared in sin or we could become overcome by the same sin.
So the right application of the statement is: Denounce sin as sin and stay as far away as possible from it. Pray to God to safeguard you from their sin. Then offer assistance to the person afflicted by the sin, praying to God that they may be redeemed from the sin. Lead the person to what is necessary to confess their sin and resolve never to do it again and mean it with all their heart, and continue to try and reach God throughout their ordeal.
Never for a second downplay what they have done or take it for granted that because God forgives all sins what they have done is really no big deal because you will bring judgment on yourself and will draw God’s wrath. You must always repudiate sin and keep it away from you. Any downplaying of sin could be seriously consequential. We must always remember that God’s way is higher than our way; His mind is higher than ours.
Be careful how involved you become: Your responsibility is not to outline to anyone what part of their actions constitutes sin. That is what their conscience is for. If they do not recognize their disobedience of God as disobedience, you are playing with fire because you might be sucked in and burned. If their conscience is seared, there is nothing you can do about it. Only God can restore their conscience and make them feel things the right way again.
The Bible says: “The Gentiles who did not receive the law are a law for themselves because …”. So God still communicates with every human being through their spirit. It is not your duty or anyone else’s to dissect sin and pronounce to the sinner what is wrong with their sin. The sinner already knows it because God is sure to get that point across to everyone who disobeys His commands. And that applies to everything God has commanded mankind in the Bible.
God said love one another so that the world will know that you belong to me. How would anybody measure love except by being obedient to all the commandments of God. If you choose to disobey any of God’s commandment at any point, you are failing to love as God says to love. Obedience to God’s commandment is the only way to measure anyone’s love of God.
That is why Jesus Christ says: “If you love me, obey my commands.” “I obey my Father’s commands because I love the Father.” “I obey everything the Father says.”
Obeying all of God’s commands bring us God’s blessings and God’s protection “If you obey my commands, my Father and I will come to you and build our house near you.” So you want God’s love, mercy, protection and blessings, obey all of God’s commandment. Do not say it is impossible to do so because you will not be doing it by your own powers; the Spirit of God will empower you to do it.
Anytime you wonder if you are doing it right, ask yourself this question: “Am I obeying everything God has commanded me to obey? Or am I picking and choosing what to obey and what not to obey because I do not like how God stated it?” You will immediately know your answer. You do not need to get a pastor to explain it to you.
Just like we receive human approval when we do things right, God communicates His approval and disapproval directly to our spirits for every one of our actions. We immediately know what we’ve done and how well it goes with God, except for those of us who have trained themselves to deny the obvious.
Unfortunately denying that the wrongs you do are wrongs do not change your wrongs to good. Wrong remains wrong whether we admit they are wrongs or not. God stripped all mankind of the right to judge one another because humans have the tendency to rationalize. And any wrong humanity could rationalize becomes right in our eyes: If anything applies to the rest of us, then it is not that bad because we all do it.
But we should all be reminded: God’s way is higher than our way! Wrong is wrong and remains wrong till the end of the world. That is why God sent His Son Jesus Christ to shed His precious blood so He could atone for all our wrongs. Besides, the blood of Jesus Christ, nothing in the world or in heaven can atone for sins. And all sins must be atoned or they will not be forgiven by God.
“Mercy triumphs over judgment” is then infinitely human. It applies in every human situation. It is the only human approach to sin that is acceptable to God. And this is limited to one’s ability, meaning everyone does not have the same capacity for mercy, but every single one of us must ascribe to it. Everyone’s best effort in any given instance of mercy is a win for the kingdom of God, so we should all be encouraged to be merciful in every situation demanding it.
Look at the following passage from the Bible:
“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15).
You can only offer the best of your abilities but you must continue to strive to do so. “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
And by continuously striving to do what is good, your own abilities are amplified every time to make your efforts effective:
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”(Galatians 2:19-21)
I continue to live in the grace of God because it is God’s righteousness—sacrificing His Son to atone for my sins and His Holy Spirit illuminating my path as I go through life—that guide me through everything I do in life. It is this righteousness of God that permits anyone to choose mercy over judgment on behalf of a brother or sister that fell into sin; and is truly repentant of his/her sin. Without repentance on the sinner’s part, you are trying to exceed your authority and could fall harder than the one you are trying to rescue.
Helping to camouflage a sin is tantamount to promoting sin. Sin must be condemned as sin. Otherwise it will infect everyone near and far. To be merciful instead of passing judgment means to encourage, comfort and urge the fallen brother and sister to repent and dedicate themselves to a life that is worthy of God, who calls him/her into His kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:12)
Colossians 3:1- New International Version (NIV):
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21 Fathers,[c] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.
Colossians 2:1-23 NIV:
"I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh[b] was put off when you were circumcised by[c] Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Philippians 4:8-9 NIV:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”