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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

A Word from James: Mercy

by Marilynn Chadwick Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13 NIV). Our two boys loved to wrestle with each other when they were little. If things got out of hand, the one who felt overpowered could cry out, "Mercy!" This was their signal of surrender. All tickling and roughhousing (at least in theory) was supposed to cease. Mercy calls out to the stronger to acknowledge the weaker one and show compassion. Mercy is woven throughout the Bible. Mercy is at the very heart of God's motivation for our salvation. Yet mercy is sometimes treated as a lesser virtue. Mistaken for mere sentimentality or emotionalism, mercy is seen by some as weak. James wants us to raise mercy to its rightful place of honor. Mercy is worthy of our deepest respect, he argues. Mercy is the social code by which believers are called to live. James exhorts followers of Jesus to a life of words and deeds governed by mercy: 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 (James 2:12-13 NIV). Mercy, or eleos in the Greek, describes the compassion which moves us to alleviate another’s misery and relieve their suffering. Jesus used the story of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate eleos (Luke 10:37 NIV). To be hard-hearted, letter-of-the-law insistent, and unmoved by any extenuating circumstances, violated the spirit of the law. Plain and simple. Mercy characterizes the way God treats me. So naturally, it should characterize the way I treat others. Lord, slow me down today. Show me what causes my heart to be hard at times. Resistant to giving or receiving mercy. Could it be that I am simply moving too fast to notice the one in need of your mercy? I pray for a new vision of mercy as the true heart of Jesus. Make me especially alert to watch for opportunities today to show eleos to one of your children. Amen.

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