Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

By Pastor Teck Uy

We live in a time where people have too much freedom to say and do anything, with no regard for the consequences. They are completely oblivious to the fact that we will all be made accountable for our actions and speech one day. In his epistle, the apostle James reminds us, “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!” (James 2:12-13). Indeed, we can be more guarded in our actions and speech if we are aware that there is a day of reckoning.

To fully emphasize the need for us to watch our tongue, Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37). Our words are so powerful that it can make or break us in the end. We often try to belittle or overlook the effect of idle words, but as far as the Lord is concerned, there is no such thing as innocent idle words. Every word that comes out of our mouth reflects the condition of our hearts because Jesus had said earlier that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (v. 34).

There is indeed a Day of Judgment but we are not to judge others. God himself will be the judge and he will judge fairly. In his judgment, the Lord will show mercy. This was fully manifested when a woman caught in adultery was brought to him for judgment. When pressed by the people to condemn the woman and stone her to death, as prescribed by the Law, Jesus responded, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Having realized they too have sinned, the accusers left her alone. There being no one left to condemn, Jesus said, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). But while mercy had triumphed over judgment, Jesus made it very clear that her pardon was not meant to condone her sin. For the woman to fully benefit from the Lord’s mercy that was just shown to her, she needed to leave her life of sin. 

It is so tempting to make judgments or to condemn those who we believe are living in sin. But the command of the Lord is, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:37-38). Often, the emphasis when we read these verses is on verse 38 which has something to do with giving – the measure we use, it will be measured back to us. However, we must remember that Jesus’ teaching just before verse 38 was about being merciful to others just as our Heavenly Father was merciful to us. Unless we are merciful to others, no mercy shall be shown to us also and thus, judgment has triumph over mercy instead of mercy triumphing over judgment. 

We all have the notion that God is a merciful, gracious and loving God and that his love, mercy and grace are unconditional. As a result, we abuse the love, grace and mercy of God. But while God’s love, mercy and grace are unconditional, we only benefit from them if we do what is expected of us. We will not be saved, even if we depend on the unconditional love of God, unless we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour according to John 3:16. We also know that we are saved by grace and not by works, but there shall be no salvation unless we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This was emphasized by the apostle Paul when he said that we are saved by grace “through faith” (Eph 2:8).

When we abuse the grace and mercies of God, then we cannot count on God’s mercies again. The Book of Hebrews tells us that “if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Heb 10:26-27). If the woman who was caught in adultery will not heed the instruction of the Lord Jesus to leave her life of sin, then there is no more hope but to expect the worse. This is in consonance with what Jesus said to the lame man that he healed. He said, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” (John 5:14). Let us therefore be careful of our actions and words so that we may not fall under God’s judgment. Let us leave our life of sin and be completely changed and renewed. Remember that in Christ Jesus, mercy triumphs over judgment. Amen.