Love and mercy, are two attributes and truths that my life and your life should be demonstrating to a world that is seriously: confused, mislead, delusional and intolerant towards truth and especially the true church and its gospel message of love, mercy, hope, restoration and forgiveness. Unfortunately though! These two words are used wrongly and inconsistent to their true meaning.
What do I mean by that? There many slogans and cliché’s out when it comes to the word “Love” The loudest one these past few months is “LoveTrumpHate” What I find ironic is the ones saying this statement are also saying……“I thought about blowing up the White House”, Another one “Barren (President Trumps 10yr old son) is going to be the next homeschooler gunman or another one said “a serial killer when he gets older.” Here is another one! “I’m so angry I stitched this (meaning her protest sign” just so I could stab something 3000 times.”
“This is my body, my choice and I have the right to do what I chose.” “Keep abortion legal.” Sadly these past few months have really shown the true colors of people in how they really feel about anyone who disagrees with their disposition….what is evidently clear is the genuine hatred towards God.
I say that because one Women’s March Poster a couple of weeks ago said “If Mary had had an abortion we wouldn’t be in this mess.” When I saw that I was stunned, shocked and grieved, with an emotion of anger and sadness. See! James is telling us here in this portion not to show favorites over another person and this is exactly what we have been witnessing around the globe these past few months. With a narrative “If you agree with me and accept what I say we can be friends and I will love you. But if you can’t, you will feel my wrath and voice.” People abusing the principles of love and mercy towards our fellow man or woman. What I find amazing when we read the scriptures is that there is no place for this at ALL in one’s life, especially the Christian. (v8)
The Christian has no excuse not to love one another. You might say “I can’t love my neighbor, are you nuts.” But the bible says “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31
You might say “I can never love someone so hateful towards Jesus and His church; they are enemies of the gospel.” You may be right in saying they are “Enemies” but the bible says “"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matt 5:43-45. These are not chiche sayings or passages! These are foundation truth for the Christian life. Why? James calls this truth “The royal Law”
“Royal Law” carries the ideas of supreme and sovereign, indicating the absolute and binding authority of the Law. When a sovereign king gives a decree, it is contestably binding on all his subjects. Since Jesus is the King of kings and we are His children saved by His mercy and grace, we are obligated to fulfill this command by a holy God. That command is to “Love” as Paul said “Love is the fulfillment of the Law.” Rom 13:10. Paul also said “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor 13:13. Or as James says here “Fulfilling or completing” an obligation which is the Christian narrative. We are without excuse, when it comes to the attribute of loving others as ourselves. Genuine love… is volitional rather than emotional. Now this doesn’t mean we must learn to love ourselves first before we can properly love others. The basic human nature is to nourish and cherish oneself. We naturally feed ourselves, dress ourselves, and wash ourselves, concern ourselves about our occupation, concern ourselves about our well-being and so on. This is the reason Paul penned these words “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,” Eph 5:29
See our love for God must be evident in this truth! Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:25. Jesus uses strong language to help you see the importance of this truth. It’s so shocking it will be something you’ll never forget. What Jesus is saying is “That our relationships in comparison to Him should look like hate.” We are so entrenched by His love it would seem unholy and sinful to love others above Him. And no this not a contradiction! Christ must be loved supremely, or He is not loved at all. If we are not willing to give up all earthly possessions, and forsake all earthly friends, and if we do not obey Him rather than all others, we have no true attachment to Him. See in order for us to love others as James says it begins here! Do I truly love the LORD? The love we are to have towards one another is a God-given and God blessed love that is concerned about meeting the needs of others. Meaning! There physical needs, their protective needs and most of all their spiritual needs for those who are a part of the true church. Seeking the needs of others as they grow in grace, holiness and Christlikeness. See, favoritism often shows up based on culture, because by definition Favoritism is “to receive according to the face.”
For example! Imagine walking into a lunchroom at school or work or the Mall by yourself, and you see two tables that have one seat left. The first group looks like you and the second group doesn’t. Naturally we are draw to the group that looks like us because it feels safe and comfortable. Why do we do that? Because the second group is not like us and therefore I’m not safe or comfortable. This doesn’t just happen here, but everywhere we go.
Consider how we talk! People say “I met a Korean guy the other day in Ottawa” or “I talked with a Native Lady at the check-out the other day.” My question is “Why does it matter if they were Korean or Native?” We don’t usually say “I talked with a white guy or black guy the other day when I was in Barry’s bay the other day.” We usually say “I talked to Joe or I talked with Steve at the Hardware store getting a new broom for Curling.” The point is ……why do we feel the need to point out how people are different from us unnecessarily.
According to James we are not to respond or think like this. Don’t respond to one another according to the face or according to the outward appearance. We are to pursue this command to love one another, because favoritism dishonors God and when we do this we are breaking God’s Law. And when we’ve broken one of His Laws we are guilty of them all. (v10-v11) We have become transgressors of the Law. “Transgressor” means to violate a law, to pass over or go beyond (a limit, boundary, etc.)
The Law is perfect and the selective obedience to it………. is disobedience. See the unity of the Law is based on the unity of the Law Giver. James 4:12 says “There is only one lawgiver and judge, He who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” If you do not love one another without showing partiality then you are guilty and become a transgressor of God’s perfect Law. And what that means is that you’ve forgotten about the love and mercy God has shown you. Therefore, we as sinners who, ourselves, hope for mercy - are to likewise be merciful toward others (v12-v13).
What James is reminding us is that mercy triumphs over judgment. The effect of this is to make guilty sinners out of all of us. “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” Rom 3:19-20. If then, we are all equally sinners before God, then we are all equally in need of God's grace and mercy. We hope on God's mercy to be shown to us. It would follow, then, that we should show the same thing toward one another as we would hope to be shown toward us. Because as James says in this text “If we do not extent mercy, we demonstrate that we have not received or tasted God’s mercy.” This passage isn’t saying you earn mercy by giving mercy to win favor with God. What this passage is saying is that “You will know those who have tasted mercy, because it will exemplified by the way they show mercy to others.”
So, what are some ways we can show this kind of love and mercy without showing partiality and judgment?
Display the fruits of forgiveness towards one another.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matt 6:14-15
Seek the needs of those whom God places into your life.
Jesus said this in Matt 25:31-46 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? ‘Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Remember the Gospel, the reason why we are able to love others at all.
We see this truth in 1 John 4:7-12 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
God never intended for us to look at one another with contempt, pride or ignorance. God never told us to look at skin colour or status of life to see if they are accepted. Every single person on this planet is a sinner in desperate need of God’s saving grace and mercy, despite how you and I feel towards those outside the family of God. Remember love is not a feeling but a choice. We have an obligation to that, but it begins in HERE, with us! If we cannot get along or love one another, then we are guilty and we need to repent of this sin. Because what that displays to the world is that we don’t love God enough as we should. Your love for God should be your plum-line to how we treat one another. This world needs to see Christ, not you and me….but in order for that to happen we need to show love and mercy here.
My challenge for you is this!
Can you do that?
Can you show mercy and love without judgment to someone you’ve turned away from or treated wrongly by your lack of love and mercy? I ask that because favoritism is a problem we still deal with today in Canada and around the globe. And especially in the church. Favoritism and partiality are not from God, and Christians are called to love. As one Theologian said “James is talking about our attitude even towards those who are outside the community of faith. And how is that attitude to be governed and controlled? By looking at the principle of God's redeeming plan. One of the glories of that redeeming plan is that in God's grace He chose us in spite of ourselves and in spite of our sins. He didn't look at us and say, “You know, they have a lot to offer Me. I think I’ll save them.” He looked at us, and in spite of ourselves, He drew us into His family. And James is saying, in the way that God drew you by mercy into His family, that must be controlling for how you look at people in the world who are different from you, who you may instinctively think of as beneath you, or with whom you do not want to fellowship. As Christians, for us to reject the despised and the downcast and the overlooked and to receive certain persons because they are considered inherently more worthy of respect is a fundamental contradiction of grace. God is saying, “I didn't look at your worth, or else you’d be in hell.” My grace, My mercy was the controlling dictate in My treatment of you, and therefore as you treat others, My mercy is your example.”
As humans, we tend to form judgments based on selfish, personal criteria rather than seeing others as God sees them. May we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and follow His example of treating every person with God’s love. “For God so loved the world….He gave us sinners… His only begotten Son.” Remember that truth before you act, speak or judge a person.
Correction in the audio sermon! I made an error of saying "Wool" instead I should have said "Mixed fabric." Sorry Listeners! God bless