Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

Mercy Triumphs Over JudgmentText: James 2:13

This passage contains an important lesson for us. Yet it is often missed by those who twist the passage to defend their particular ideology. Like anything else in the Bible, context is important. In this lesson, we are going to see what this passage teaches (in context) and how the passage is often misused.

How This Verse Is Misused

  • Often misused by those who want to expand the bounds of fellowship beyond what God has determined – they want to be “tolerant” and “accepting”; they try to be more tolerant and accepting than God
  • Other verses (mis)used to support this mentality (Matthew 7:1; Romans 14:1)
  • Argument made from this verse – rather than passing JUDGMENT (determining whether a practice/teaching is right or wrong), we are to show MERCY (accept those who believe/live/worship differently than we do)
  • Those who accept this idea will not always apply it uniformly – many possible lines drawn (adulterous marriages, denominationalism, world religions, belief in God, etc.)

Understanding the Context

  • Warning against showing favoritism (James 2:1-7) – we have a tendency to make judgments based upon appearances (James 2:2-4); often, reality is quite different from our assumptions (James 2:6-7); we need to adopt God’s view of others (James 2:5)
  • Fulfill the “royal law” (James 2:8) – the “second” great commandment (Matthew 22:39); we are to show love to all people (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
  • Being transgressors of the law (James 2:9-11) – partiality is a sin; if we are guilty, we have transgressed the law; committing even one sin makes us a transgressor of the law; as a transgressor of the law (a sinner), we are worthy of death (Romans 6:23)
  • We will be judged by God (James 2:12; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10) – by the standard of His word (John 12:48); it is the “law of liberty” (cf. James 1:25) not because we can do whatever we please (1 Peter 2:16), but because we are free from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:16-18) and from any obligation to obey the commandments of men in religion (Colossians 2:20-23); we have no right to judge/condemn someone based upon a human standard (Matthew 15:1-9); if we do not show mercy, we will not be shown mercy (James 2:13; cf. Matthew 6:14-15; 5:7)

What This Phrase Means

  • We are to be merciful to others as God has been merciful to us (Matthew 5:7)
  • This is not a tolerance of sin/error – God does not tolerate sin/error (Proverbs 6:16-19; Ephesians 5:6; Galatians 1:8-9); we are not to have fellowship with sin/error (1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; 2 John 10-11)
  • We are to assume the best of others, rather than being quick to condemn/dishonor them – don’t rush to judgment based upon one’s appearance; see them as God does (James 2:1; Acts 10:34)

Other Applications

  • If someone is in need, help them (Galatians 6:10) – don’t be quick to assume they’re lazy, wasteful, etc.
  • If someone is weak, strengthen them (1 Thessalonians 5:14) – don’t be quick to assume they’re worldly-minded and beyond hope
  • If someone is in sin, correct them (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20) – don’t be quick to assume that they will not repent
  • If someone is in error, show them the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-25; Acts 18:24-26) – don’t be quick to assume they are dishonest and will refuse to admit their error
  • If someone is more judgmental than merciful, be patient with them (1 Thessalonians 5:14) – don’t be quick to assume that they cannot change


  • We need to show mercy to others – we also need to appreciate the difference between right and wrong
  • We will all be judged by God – let us be as merciful to others as He has been to us

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