Day 3

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

from the James reading plan


James 2:1-13, Zechariah 7:9-10, Matthew 7:1-5, Romans 13:8-10

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: James 2:1-13, Zechariah 7:9-10, Matthew 7:1-5, Romans 13:8-10

With the precision of a surgeon’s knife, the Holy Spirit sliced into my heart, convicting me. It caught me off guard—my sin of favoritism.

Hours before, I’d watched a video on discrimination alongside my ministry team. The clip highlighted how easily we can fall into judging and favoring others. To further illustrate the point, we were divided into two different groups based on one aspect of our lives, something we had no control over: our eye color. People with blue eyes were to be treated differently than those with brown eyes.  

Soon comments and accusations were flying back and forth. The responses of those discriminated against felt strangely satisfying to me. One woman in particular spoke with such disdain; her condescending attitude only proved her lack of awareness of those who live in the margins every day. I confess I was happy to have her sit in the back of the room as a member of the “discriminated” group, so she could experience a lack of equity.

The next day, our group entered into a time of prayer, confession, and lament. That’s when God opened my eyes in a new way to Galatians chapter five, where Paul lists the works of the flesh: enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy. The very things our team had sought to address and combat head-on were now being revealed in my own heart. I had judged that woman, and in thinking less of her, I showed partiality toward others who appeared more self-aware and further along in their faith journey.

“My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ… haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
– James 2:1,4

This sin—my sin of judging some and favoring others—is cautioned against throughout Scripture. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus couldn’t be more clear when He says, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use” (Matthew 7:1-2).

The Lord is the only one worthy of being the Judge. He’s the only one capable of judging fairly. “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). It’s not our job to do the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting others of their sin, but we are called to respond to the Spirit’s conviction in our own hearts.

When we try to take God’s place as judge and jury, perhaps it’s because we’ve lost sight of just how great a debt Jesus died to pay on our behalf. Now, God’s “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13); His justice has been satisfied once and for all who love Jesus (Romans 3:25-26).

We’re all on a journey, learning to honor the Lord through loving one another well. Daily, as we walk in step with the Spirit, may we speak the gospel into our waking moments. As sin is exposed, let us draw near to our Savior. Mercy triumphed over judgment when Christ died for us, sinners, and rescued us from deserved condemnation. And mercy triumphs still, as a holy God looks at us and sees the spotless image of His Son.

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Vivian Mabuni is a speaker and author, and a sushi, white Christmas lights, post-its, and coffee-with-friends lover. She has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for 28 years and serves with Epic Movement, the Asian American ministry of Cru. Connect with Vivian on Twitter and Instagram at @vivmabuni.

Post Comments (105)

105 thoughts on "Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment"

  1. Felicity Rose says:

    This is huge in my life. I had been judging a girl who put me on a 5150 call because of all the hurt she has caused me for months but now I’ve had a change of heart. I only want the best for her. I want her to live a long and happy life whether or not I am present in her life. And I can only hope and pray that she wishes the same for me.

  2. Stef Lewerenz says:

    This is huge. My dad is one of the most difficult people I’ve ever met and he doesn’t see it. And I am struggling with how to distance myself from him to stop the chance of being hurt time and time again. But God calls to love. I don’t get to decide what other people deserve, or how they deserve to be treated.
    But I do wonder what it looks like to love someone but also be wise in how close I am to someone who constantly emotionally manipulates and hurts me.

    If anyone has any wisdom on this I would be so grateful.

    1. Kate Harper says:

      Yes me too, Stef. This is my life. I was convicted through this reading. It’s hard. We don’t want to put ourselves in the situation to get hurt. But we chose love every single time. Every single time love wins & love fulfills the law.

  3. Jennifer says:

    So to love everyone is forfilling the Law like it says in Romans. I need the Lord’s help on this. I believe we all do.

  4. Morgan says:

    We cannot judge a persons heart, but judging the action as right or wrong, sinful or righteous, is different. When pointing out a sin to someone it should also be taken into account whether or not the person is a professing believer. With a believer the focus is on becoming more like Christ and having Him guide you toward righteousness. But a non believer, regardless of how great the sun committed has a deeper problem. They do not know Christ. Everything has to start with the foundation of Christ, either introducing Him or reminding someone, with love, that Christ has a better way.

  5. Cori says:

    The definition of “judge” is unclear here. There is an important different between “judging” and “discerning.”

  6. Ashley says:

    I’m struggling with this now, as a good friend of mine has committed adultery. I’m trying not to judge, but at the same time, figuring out if I should back away from the relationship a bit because I’m ashamed for her, and just having a hard time making it all okay in my mind and in my life. How does one do this??

    1. Jode says:

      Pray, pray for God to lead your words and speak the truth to her. As a woman who committed adultery and broke up her family I can honestly say that having a friend that loved me enough to tell me the truth might have made a difference. It may not have, but, we had no strong enough friendships to stand up for our marriage when we couldn’t. You may lose the friendship but at least you will lose it for loving a friend enough to speak God’s truth, rather than stepping back, letting a chance to save a marriage fall with a thud. True Friendships stand the test of time and someday, she will see the truth and know who the truest friend was/is. Just my thoughts on the matter. I will be praying diligently for you, and for your friend. God bless.

      1. Ashley says:

        Hey Ashley, I had a friend once do the same. It’s hard to separate your feelings and beliefs from that of your friends actions. My advice, and what I do for anyone that I love, is I pray for that loved one to draw close to God, and for purity. I know it may sound a little strange considering the act has already been made, but what your friend needs most now is love. I think it’s okay to take a step back for a moment in a physical sense/presence. Your relationship might be tense for awhile, but I wouldn’t give up hope that your friendship couldn’t be restored, and as you pray for your friend God will help you with understanding and forgiveness.

    2. Michelle says:

      I want to go at this from another angle. My husband had multiple affairs. He is a sex addict. I struggled as to whether our marriage could be restored or not. It has been. What is important about this is that my husband lost some of his friends and some of our friends because of others judging his actions. it made his struggles even harder (mine too!). Those friends that knew and remained have continued to help him through recovery. Given my experiences, I think if she were my friend, I would ask God to help me use the right words and tell her I hate what she did but I still love her. As hard as it may be love the person hate the act. Even Jesus loved adulterers and forgave them. I know this is tough! Hugs and prayers.

  7. Jacquie says:

    Just wondering if you would consider making these devotions audible? It would be great for my blind friends and great to take in the car and listen on the way.

  8. Amanda says:

    Wow this was so great. As a busy college student in-between working and school. I find myself getting caught up in the hustle and bustle at times and not saving time for my relationship with Christ. But as I started this devotional this week I have been revisiting truths that I can readily apply to my everyday life. Since I am a barista you can imagine all the people I come across on a daily basis, sometimes I get great friendly customers and others I get not so nice ones. But I need to remember that LOVE and patience is key, the Lord has nothing but love and patience for me and all the headaches I give him, so who am I not to show the same affection towards others. As I head to work today this was a great reminder to keep my heart in check, be an example, and not judge others.

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