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. – Jms. 2:12-13 NIV.
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Although some bible historians identify James as the brother of Jesus Christ, some are of the opinion that he was just a brother by faith or at best a cousin and not a blood brother. However in this single book of five chapters which he wrote to the believers in Jerusalem in particular and to all believers in general, he identifies himself simply as the servant of God and of our Lord, Jesus Christ – Jms. 1:1. In his capacity then as the leader of the Church in Jerusalem and probably the first Bishop of the Church in Jerusalem, he gave several advises to the believers, that is expected to aid their Christian living and help sustain their decision to be believers in the way of the cross. One of such advise is the need for Christians to avoid favouritism in dealing with one another – Jms. 2:1.
Favouritism which is defined as the practice of giving unfair or preferential treatment to one person or group at the expense of another, cuts across several spheres of life and can be found amongst several people. Whatever area of life that may be in consideration, James advises that believers must avoid such a conduct as in doing that, they have discriminated amongst themselves and become judges with evil thoughts – Jms. 2:3-4. Using the situation where the rich are made favourites over those who are deemed poor, he reminds that such unfair advantage is not even justifiable considering that it is this same rich that are exploting them, dragging them to court and blaspheming the name of the one they claim to belong to, who is the Almighty God – Jms. 2:5-7.
As much as Bishop James may be right in his chosen example, the bottom line remains that nothing can justify the act of favouritism against another as according it represents discrimination and judgement with evil thoughts. This negative acts eventually confers unfair advantage of someone over another. It introduces the use of unfair scales in dealing with two people or groups with the favourite group enjoying great advantage and the other group seriously handicapped does hampering their chances of success – Lev. 19:35-36; Prov. 20:23. This no doubt, is an evil act as it deliberately creates an imbalance in the provided opportunity and more importantly indicates the absence of love for a fellow brother or sister in the Lord, a virtue that the Almighty God has always advocated for amongst His children.
Bishop James highlights the fact that the one who is keeping the divine law of loving of loving a neighbour will never be involved in acts of favouritism as those who practise favouritism are are sinning and are already convicted by the law as law-breakers going further to make it known that no sin is small as all sins carry the same weight of penalty – Jms. 2:8-11. In the scripture that is the foundation of today’s devotional, he advises all who hope to receive the favour of God by expecting to be judged by the law that gives freedom, to speak and act in such manner when dealing with the brethren. Whoever is conscious that there is going to be judgement for acts such as this and similar acts, and is expecting to be shown mercy at such times will be equally expected to steer away from such negative acts by being merciful not to some, but to all brethren in general – Jms. 2:12-13. It should not be about what we judge someone to be, whether positive or negative but about showing mercy in such situations. He reminded all that the one who decides not to show mercy in situations like this, and instead, chooses to relate to people in an unfair manner mostly based on activities or achievements of people, as assessed by him/her, should expect to be so judged by the Almighty God too. Mercy in the final analysis has to always triumph over judgement just as we also expect to be so judged and dealt with by the Almighty God.
Today’s Christian is very comfortable relating with this scripture in expectation that the Lord will apply that to his or her situation and in the process receive favour from the lord, but chooses to conveniently ignore the fact that simple acts of favouritism are sufficient to deny one of such favours from the Lord. In day-to-day actions, judgements are skewed in favour of evil and at the expense of good, because of carnal considerations that have nothing to the with divine truth and such still expects to be favoured by the Lord when making requests. Such Christians should be made aware that such expectations remain a dream that will never be realised. People will continue to harvest what they sow just as the one who acts against another because of the shortcomings of such, spiritual or physical, should not expect to receive favour from the Lord when his/her acts are to be assessed. Christians should allow love to prevail in such situations and even where the one that is being discriminated against is truly deserving of such acts, mercy should be allowed to prevail and such should still be favoured in some way. That is the time that such can also expected to receive favours from the Lord as mercy will be received from the throne of judgement.
Nothing can ever justify discrimination which is the act that is performed when favouritism is in operation and the Christian who intends to receive mercy from the Lord must, together with other negative acts, avoid conferring advantage to anyone at the detriment of a fellow brethren especially on the basis of physical assessment of the victim. No matter how unjustified such may be in receiving the favour, mercy should be allowed to overcome in those situation. Then and only then should such also expect to receive mercy after being adjudged guilty by the Almighty God. May God continue to help us with all our actions, so we will not be deprived of mercy and receive favour during times of assessments in Jesus name. Amen.