Merciless Judgment

"For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy."

--James 2.13

I have to admit, I'm a bit of a fundamentalist and legalist when it comes to texts like these.

The eschatological imagination here in James is identical to that of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Yes, I'm saved by faith and grace, but when it comes to following Jesus in my daily life passages like James 2.13 are the ones I use to guide my steps.

I know there are both theological and personal problems here. Theologically, I know a strict, flat reading of texts like James 2.13 creates soteriological issues. And personally, I know a lot of us worry about carrying guilt and shame in relation to God's judgment.

But speaking only for myself, I don't mind carrying guilt when it is tied to the right things, like showing mercy. And while I can't tell you how God being merciless to my lack of mercy works out theologically, from a daily, pragmatic point of view it's a very clarifying perspective upon how to live and make choices today. Theology can be a distraction. When I'm faced with the choice of extending mercy, sometimes you just need James 2.13 to give you a very clear word:

Judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy.

Theology aside, that sentence helps you make better choices.

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