It’s a regular dilemma for us: should we forgive or should we judge? But the Bible incredibly tells us that mercy always trumps judgment:
For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13, NASB).
What this is telling us is that mercy is the defining quality in the judgment of God. The mercy you have shown others is directly proportional to the mercy that you will be shown before God. Why? It isn’t because God will forgive you based on your works. Not at all. It’s because showing mercy to others is the sure sign that a person has accepted the free mercy of God in his own life.
When the Apostle James says that “mercy triumphs over judgment,” he is saying that mercy is the most powerful quality in the judgment. However, even more than that, James is even putting mercy against judgement, as if they were opposites.
There’s a principle here. If we are ever unsure whether to decide to show mercy to someone, or to judge them, we should always err on the side of mercy.
I grew up in a very judgmental environment, and I became a very judgmental person. I learnt to put everyone into boxes: good and bad, better and worse. If people were in a bad situation, it was their fault, because they had made the wrong choices. If people were overweight, it was because they had no self-control. If they were ill it was because they chose to have a bad diet. To my shame, that was me.
In your life, let mercy win
Learning the truth about the Gospel has challenged me to examine my own prejudices and the reason why I felt the need to constantly judge others. I realised that it was a self defence mechanism, to try to cover up my own defects, and justify my being better than others.
However, my failures and sad experiences in life have laid bare the truth about myself: that I’m just as broken, and no better than anyone else. In fact, I’m the one in the greatest need of mercy, and if it is not for the mercy and grace of God, there would be no hope for me at all.
I still struggle with being judgmental, but more and more, I can see mercy win in my life. There will always be a struggle in your life between mercy and judgment. Let mercy win in your life too.
When the Pharisees complained that Jesus was spending too much time with sinners, he said to them,
Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Matt 9:13, NIV).
Jesus wasn’t interested in their religious rituals or their religious pronouncements, if they weren’t merciful to others. Above everything else, Jesus was interested in mercy. Mercy trumps judgment. Every time.
Consider your own life. Do you show mercy to others? Will you receive mercy yourself?
Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question.