Monday, 22 October 2018

James - Digging Deeper 9

Notes: EH = Everett Hill - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle

James 2 vs 8 - 13:
(8) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well;  (9) but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (10) For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. (11) For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (12) So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. (13) For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

The Royal Law is God's law.  And what is that?  To love one another, to love the Lord your God, with all your heart and all your mind!  God's love accomplishes all the law expects of us with regards to God and our fellow man.

How is it that to sin in one area, means you sin in all, when considering the law?
EH uses James MacArthur's analogy of God's law being like a single piece of glass.  If you sin in one area (whether it be selfishness, murder, lying), its like a pebble been thrown at the glass.  It breaks the glass, fragments it, shatters the whole thing.  Not just a segment of the glass, but the WHOLE glass is ruined.

MacArthur summarizes it like this:  "By breaking a part of the law you have broken the integrity of the whole law."

Another analogy is that of Humpty Dumpty, once cracked, ALL the king's horses and ALL the king's men couldn't put him back together again.  All of our "goodness" and all of our mending cannot put the law back together again.

But, there is One who can.  Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, every one of them.  And His sacrifice restores anything that was broken.  He is come to fulfill the law....

So that leads us to vs 12So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.  When we are born again, we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour by faith.  We no longer have to make sacrifices to cover our sins because all our sins are covered by His death on the cross for us.  We now live in a dispensation of grace where, because of our faith we are under His undeserved and unmerited grace and mercy.  To speak and do as those who will be judged, is to accept freely and humbly God's mercy, and extend that same mercy to others, which leads to Vs 13.

Vs 13 says when we come to the judgement seat of God, if we have been merciless, we will be dealt with mercilessly.  Mercy triumphs over judgement.

I like how EH deals with mercy in his study.  He says,
  • James makes it clear that a person who does not give mercy will not receive it.
  • We do not have the capacity on our own to give mercy, so how can we ever give enough to receive it?  I realized that I had to shift my perspective to see the foundation upon which this verse was built.  What I missed was this:  The mercy given to us by Jesus is the only antidote available.  
  • I eventually discovered that for mercy to be true mercy, it must be given without payment or subsidy, meaning that this mercy that James was mentioning had to have its source in Jesus.
  • I had missed the key to all of this, which is that God must first show mercy to us freely before we can pass it onto others.  If we refuse His mercy and run away from it, we will never be able to give mercy to others.
  • God's mercy was not meant to be locked up or hidden in our hearts.
  • The mystery of this antidote is that it is compulsively shared by those who have received it.
EH says as we accept God's mercy, realizing how undeserved it is, it naturally flows from us to others.  That is true mercy.  Giving it to others with no strings attached.

I am reminded of a great hurt I have suffered and reading this study has highlighted for me that I am to be merciful, as God has been merciful to me, to extend forgiveness and grace, with no strings attached (I forgive you IF...) and to be happy for that person and move on with my life content that as I have shown mercy, in judgement God will show me more mercy.  

EH puts my hurt into perspective with this statement:  "When we see the value of the mercy shown us in our lives, the entirety of the pain and hurt that we have experienced in our lives can begin to fade into the vastness of the forgiveness we have received."

EH has a prayer at the end of each his study sections.  I love the one after this section:
"God, help me to recognize the sins in my life that I have been downplaying.  Let me be aware of them and horrified by them.  Then, because of your infinite mercy, I can ask for You to forgive me and You will!  Also, make me the kind of person who, upon receiving this mercy, is quick to give mercy to others."

EH also refers to the story about the man who was forgiven a HUGE debt, who turned around and would not forgive a much smaller debt owed to him.  He did not extend mercy, when it had just been extended to him.  Thus, when the king heard this, his judgement of him was harsh.  I think this is an awesome picture of what v13  (For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment) is referring to.

Matthew Henry' Commentary says this about The Law of Liberty:
"It is the law of liberty, and one that we have no reason to complain of as a yoke or burden; for the service of God, according to the gospel, is perfect freedom;  it sets us at liberty from all slavish regards, either to the persons or the things of the world."  I like that!  

He says this about mercy: "All the children of men, in the last day, will be either vessels of wrath or vessels of mercy.  It concerns all to consider among which they shall be found;  and let us remember that blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."  I like this too!

There are 3 major things the Lord has drawn my attention to in this part of study for me:
  1. God has overwhelmed me with His mercy, daily, yet I have withheld mercy where I could have been merciful.  I need to be generous in mercy as God is generous with me.
  2. Part of forgiving someone is extending mercy, but that mercy should be extended without strings attached.  "I forgive, but only completely when you apologize to me!"  No!  I forgive, even if I never receive an apology from you!  That is true mercy, given by the Lord, unearned and undeserved, but forwarded on to someone who has not earned it, or does not deserve it.
  3. Mercy is circular, the more you receive the more you extend!

God bless

My ABIDE scripture today is:
Luke 6 vs 36:  Be merciful just as your Father is also merciful.

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