Reflection: With his typical no-holds-barred approach, James reminds us that a fundamental sign of new birth for followers of Jesus is merciful love and pity for those in need. And believers are to approach this issue considering God’s judgement. The “law that gives freedom” here is the content of the Gospels. Our lives are tested against the life and teachings of Jesus, especially his “law of love”. Importantly, our new birth comes as the gift of God (1:17–18) and good works are simply the evidence of that new birth. Echoing Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”, James asks those who refuse to show mercy whether they have understood God’s mercy for them. There are some fabulous examples of Christians who have lived this teaching out to great effect. All Christians, though, are called to a principle of active mercy for those in need. Those who have known the mercy of Christ are to strive to reflect that love to everyone they encounter.
Question: How might you best display God’s mercy and kindness to someone in need this week?
Prayer: Gracious Father, you have been merciful and kind to me, even though I did not deserve it. Please help me to reflect your love to others, especially those in most need. May I be a light to those experiencing dark times. Amen.