James 2:5-7 & 12-14. [NIV]
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken
5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?…12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?
It’s only a few days until the celebration of our nation’s freedom. We’re in another time of turmoil about freedom now, but this time it’s not our own. This time we’re confronted by the object lesson of current events demanding we consider who deserves to be free, what freedom demands of them and how much we’re willing to invest of what God has given us so they can be free? We are dependent on the mercy of God triumphing over the judgment of men as we struggle to find answers to those questions. Many others fought in 1776 for the freedom we celebrate this week but here’s God’s challenge for us to consider now.
“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”
Our challenge is to have mercy for the reality of physical need not judge the integrity of their desire to be free of tyranny and oppression. Our nation was built by many other people who were judged ineligible and exiled from their home, but by the mercy of God’s grace they were given a second chance to invest their lives and resources “in order to form a more perfect Union.” Were they perfect? Of course not!
This is the truth of freedom then…and it’s still the truth of freedom now. God will hold us accountable for our actions “because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.” It makes no earthly sense that “mercy triumphs over judgment” but it makes no heavenly sense that we have exploited the poor and honored “the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong.”
Lord help us! Help us this July 4th of 2019 to “speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.” Lord make us so “rich in faith” that we can honestly promise we’ll invest our blessings in others seeking freedom and in your truth that “mercy triumphs over judgment.”