Bible Passage: James2
There are many good points in this chapter but as usual, I would just raise only one point in this blog.
All these years as a Christian in TJC, I have been pondering about the words in the Bible especially those pertaining to salvation. If one ponders about salvation in a simplistic sense it basically means having faith in Jesus as the Son of God; understanding and believing his death and resurrection. However when one grows in the Word of God, he/ she will find out that faith is a broad word and there is way more contents in faith than just this simple belief. Faith, like love, is actionable and must be actionable else it is not faith neither it can be considered love.
This chapter illustrates true faith and true love and that faith and love must truly be with actions. Actions/ works are a manifestation of this faith and a manifestation of this love. Just like how a parent sacrifice his/ her time and money on his/ her child, love involves sacrifice. If someone claims to love someone and does not sacrifice, then one can judge that this love is purely hypocrisy and a delusion. Faith involves believing and obeying the Word of God just like how Abraham and all the heroes of faith have done so in the past (best illustrated in Hebrews 11).
The point I would like to make is actually in verse 13, second portion.
“Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13b)
When one understands the characteristics of our Heavenly Father, we know that He is both merciful and righteous. When He is righteous, it means He will judge us for all we have done. When He is merciful, it means He pardons us and forgives us of our iniquities. Due to both His nature of mercy and righteousness, plus His great love for His creation, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins, and thus opening a way for salvation.
Thus in the Bible, there is this tug of war between mercy and judgment. Perhaps we can say at the beginning when we have faith in Jesus and are baptized in His Name for the remission of sins, it is purely the mercy of God. However, once we believed and now become His children, we are likened to the chosen people of Israel in the past. Reading their history, we know that God has countless of times shown longsuffering mercy to them, but that did not diminished the requirement of punishing them for their iniquities. God has also chastised them many times and brought calamities, pestilences and death to them for their disobedience.
God requires of us these:
“Be holy, for I am holy.”(1 Pet 1:16)
“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Mt 5:48)
How many of us or anyone can claim to be perfect and claim to be holy? We know that God is perfect and holy, but as our Father, He expects His children to be so too. Man was after all born in the image of God.
If God today were to judge us, are we able to stand before Him? Have we confessed all our wrongs to Him during our prayers? Have we fully repented or have we even ignored His warnings and chastisements?
For these reasons, although all these years as believer I have improved in certain ways and have sacrificed more for the Lord, but there are chinks in this perfection that is always in want. I dare not call this Almighty God my Father but always refer to Jesus instead for I always feel unworthy to be His Son. To be His Son, we have to be perfect just like Jesus for Jesus is the model of this perfect Son of God.
However, this verse that says mercy triumphs over judgment gives me comfort; a comfort that despite the shortfall to His standards, there is a go for salvation. With the dwelling and renewal of the Holy Spirit and the partaking of the Holy Communion, God’s intention is that our spiritual life is being renewed true confession of our mistakes before this Almighty Judge; that through daily reflection and renewal, we can bridge the gap between imperfection and perfection. Perfection through the justified of faith that though physically we may not be able to achieve His standards, but spiritually He bridges this shortfall through our understanding of our weaknesses and our fear of Him. My take is as long as I am humble to Him and always examining myself and confessing to Him, by His mercy, and solely His mercy, I will receive salvation at the Last Day.
What is your take?