Judgment and Mercy

Passage for Today

James 2:1-13

2 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.


  1. What does it look like to show partiality and why is it wrong?
  2. What do you learn about God from this passage?
  3. How can we as a newly merged congregation work towards unity and not partiality?


By Lifeway

Today’s text stands in stark contrast to caring for widows and orphans; instead, the stain of worldliness was polluting the church with favoritism for the rich. Simply put, they weren’t putting the teachings of Jesus into practice.
James confronts our sin head-on. We sin when we show partiality to some people over others, whether they’re rich, poor, or different in another way. Believers should extend mercy rather than harsh judgment to others. Faith without mercy toward others is not genuine faith. 
Familial language is key in James’s letter to the dispersed church. For followers of Jesus, true faith is personal, but it’s also communal. The church is the family of God.
We previously saw that when addressing the nature of temptation, James referred to God as “the Father of lights” (Jas. 1:17). When describing “religion that is pure and undefiled,” James again referred to God as Father (v. 27). Notice that religion that pleases the Father is caring for widows and orphans—women and children without families. In these verses, James turned his attention to another marginalized group: the poor. 
Almost every time a practical point of application is addressed, James used a key phrase to draw attention to what he was about to say, pleading in love with his fellow church members.
Christ paid the ultimate price for His church. When we make petty judgments of others in the church based on what they wear or how much money they’re able to contribute, the church becomes indistinguishable from the world. We don’t enter the church based on merit. Jesus paid the same price for every person in His church. The same gospel unites us with brothers and sisters in Christ. His blood bought our freedom from sin and made us sons and daughters of the Father of light.

*  This devotion was found at Bible.com titled “James: Faith/Works” by Lifeway.

1 Comment

Steve A. - September 4th, 2023 at 8:19am

My take is that Jesus paid for ALL our sins, rich, poor ,"red& yellow, black & white" as the song goes. We are all equal in God's kingdom.