Devotional Series: James: More Grace


James 2:12-13 | 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.


How  should the gospel change the way you relate to people?

James wants to wake his readers up. He wants them to see how serious it is to treat the poor in their congregation differently from the rich. This behaviour doesn’t fit with how believers in the glorious Lord Jesus Christ should behave. It is not how God behaves towards the poor and it breaks God’s law which commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

We have no right to behave like judges over people, honoring some and dishonoring others.

    • How should we behave instead (v. 12)?

Rather than behaving like judges, we are to live as people who will be judged ourselves. Our lives are going to be compared with God’s law – that reflection of his perfect character – to see how well they measure up.

Jesus once said, ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36). Christians have received mercy from God in the gospel. Now we are to behave like our heavenly Father and treat others with mercy too.

    • What will happen to those who don’t treat others with mercy (v. 13)?

Measured against God’s law of love, all of us will be found to be law-breakers. How much we need judgment with mercy! But we should not expect God to be merciful to us if we have withheld mercy from those around us. For Jesus went on to say, ‘… with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ (Luke 6:38). This is a serious warning.

James knows that his readers have not been honoring the poor or treating them with grace. They have not showered the poor with blessings they do not deserve and could never repay – quite the opposite in fact: they have not been merciful to them at all.

James’ point is that if you have really received God’s mercy, your behavior will change. You will want to keep God’s law and become like him. Keeping his law still matters and keeping his law is also good for us. This law ‘gives freedom’, for loving our neighbor turns us outwards from the slavery of our self-centredness. The gospel of grace frees us to love like God loves.

How we live matters. Believers are to live as those whose lives are to be measured against God’s perfect law. Of course, if that was the end of the story, we would always be condemned. But praise God that judgment will not be the last word for true believers, for mercy ‘triumphs’ over judgment (v. 13). And that should be the pattern in our relationships with one another too.


Ask God to help you speak and act today with mercy towards others, especially those who cannot repay you in any way.

Devotional from YouVersion Bible App. Contact Pastor Rod Lindemann at on how to use the Bible App for additional readings and topics.