I’ve been thinking about a phrase from James, Chapter Two, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” ~ James 2:12-13,
So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ~ ESV.
And I especially like the way the New Living Translation says it, because it explains what’s meant by the phrase, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” I’ve long thought that mercy and judgment were inextricably intertwined, and the way the New Living Translation phrases it, it seems that I’m understanding it correctly:
There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. ~ James 2:13, NLT.
I found a good illustration of this concept in Matthew 18:23-35, the parable that Jesus told of the unforgiving servant, and the New Living Translation tells it quite well:
Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold ~ along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned ~ to pay the debt. But the man fell down before his master and begged him, “Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.”
Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. “Be patient with me, and I will pay it,” he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called the man he had forgiven and said, “You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.
This says to me that for mercy to triumph over judgment, forgiveness must be offered by the wronged party to the person who wronged them. So, while God certainly plays a part in the matter, if we want God to judge us mercifully come judgment day, we must act with mercy towards others in our dealings with them in this life. We must forgive when we are wronged rather than holding a grudge or seeking revenge. Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (see Matthew 5:44), and that’s certainly what He did when He forgave those who crucified Him as He was on the cross (see Luke 23:34), which is all the more remarkable considering the agony and excruciating pain He was in at the time.
So Christ is our example, and He’s the best example we have. If I need to know what to do in any situation, all I have to do is figure out what Jesus would do, and if there’s no specific precedent to follow, then follow the path of Love.