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The Triumph of Mercy

The Triumph of Mercy

Words of Faith 4-30-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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James 2:12-13

          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!

 

          Ann, my wife and ministry partner, has a wonderful saying: "Pray as though it all depends on God and work as though it all depends on you.”  She actually lives that out at pretty high velocity and with a lot of traction.  James seems to suggest to us something similar: Trust as though it all depends on grace, but live as though your works will be judged by the law, especially when it comes to mercy.

         We know that we are saved by grace.  That wonderful knowledge, however, is part of our problem!  Sometimes we get more than a little lax in our dependence on grace. We take it for granted.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this "cheap grace.”  When we forget how holy and merciful God is and how much mercy is required of those who have received mercy, we slip into "cheap grace.”  We cheapen that which is magnificent.

         The truth is that every time I feel that spirit of judgment coming on, that part of me that rears up and says: "My, I am quite holy, and that person is bad," I must, without fail, remember that without Jesus I am completely lost in this universe.  But for the mercy of a loving God, I am eternally lost alone and separated from Him. 

          That is the reality.  He judged me guilty, but then He sought me out.  He never gave up.  And if I were the only one, He still would have given everything for me.  See?  James is right. Mercy triumphs over judgment!  The question is: Can that same mercy triumph over judgment in my life?

        Henri Nouwen, in his book "Compassion," claims that the "message which comes to us in the New Testament is that the compassionate life is a life together."  Mercy is lived out in community.  There is no other way.  James was arguing mercy when he confronted favoritism and advocated the law that gives freedom.

        It is interesting that while compassion is an individual trait, it is also essentially communal in nature.  That is where mercy happens.  As a result, Christian community is the antidote for isolation and self-indulgent Christianity.  The fact is that in community our lives become compassionate because of the way we live and work together. When we choose community, we place ourselves next to each other.  In working and sharing together, we learn to trust each other and to be vulnerable to each other.  And we express mercy.

        Sadly, the modern church has lost much of the intimacy and interdependence of the early church. When we hear from James, we witness a model of transparent honesty.  James cared enough about the members of the church to offer rebuke, but he did so wearing the mantle of brother, not of judge or superior. 

      The reality is that "church order" is often maintained through a system that reflects the spirit of our culture rather than the Spirit of Christ. We would do well to remember the humble spirit that caused James to claim the title "brother.”

         We need community.  It has been argued that for a large church to be healthy, there must be places where each person can be part of a smaller congregation or subset of the larger church. These congregations should be no more than 100 people so that honesty, accountability, and intimacy can flourish.  There must be opportunities for members to be known, or they will be lost in the "stadium church" of modern life.

         We need community on a personal level. The bottom line is that mercy triumphs in my life when I receive that mercy and express that mercy.  Mercy triumphs in my life when I extend His mercy to others.  That is a sacred synergy that happens in community.   Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. We do well to ask of ourselves: How is my community?  How is my circle of life?  Is there some mercy to receive?  Is there some mercy to extend?

 

        Lord, put me in touch with Your Mercy today so that as never before, I may extend that mercy in ways that triumph over judgment.  Help me to find my place in the community of Your Body.  In Jesus' Name. Amen. 

 

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2009, 2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)       

2820 Business Center Blvd.

Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.