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The Final Appraisal

James 2:12-13
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. (NIVUK)

James has been telling us that favouritism, in the church, community or workplace, is not a godly way to behave (James 2:1-11). He now concludes by looking ahead to the time when we have our lifetime's 'appraisal' with Jesus. The message is quite direct. We must remember that we will have to give an account of all our words and actions (Romans 14:12). We should not forget that Jesus came to fulfil God's law, and through His death release believers to be able to do what pleases God (James 1:25). Once we have come to Christ, we then ought to obey Him freely out of love and gratitude. If we don't, then we are ungrateful and disobedient; and that leads to bondage - an inability to enjoy the freedom Christ has won for us.

What we say and how we behave reveals what we believe (Luke 6:45). What we say and do matters because one day, when we stand before the Lord, He will ask us to give an account of our words and actions (Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:12; Hebrews 4:13; 1 Peter 4:5). Having been pre-warned, this should stimulate us to review our lifestyle. The essence of the gospel is that God demonstrated His love as Christ died for unworthy sinners (Romans 5:6-8). Mercy is as much the hall-mark of His character as justice. In the sacrifice of Jesus, justice was done for our sins so that God might be merciful to us (Titus 3:3-7).

If we fail to be merciful to those who need our care, how does that show that we follow Jesus? It does not. Our hard heartedness, which loves to judge others, will find that judgement rebounds on ourselves. This may seem harsh, but James certainly makes the point in such a way that we cannot escape the seriousness of the message (Hebrews 12:25). We are expected to treat others as Jesus did, and to speak to them as He did too (John 13:14-17). Anything less is offensive to God and will bring His judgement on those who dishonour Him. It is a part of the 'wood, hay and stubble' lifestyle which has no eternal value and will reap God's judgement (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

Most workplaces have a wide variety of people, workers, customers and clients - and all the people who support the infrastructure such as cleaners, canteen workers, couriers and drivers: and from different culture backgrounds too. Having this teaching from James, let's put it into practice by finding ways to honour those who others might ignore or despise. That should be especially true with other Christians (Galatians 6:10) but it must not stop there. Each person is loved by God and Jesus gave His life for everyone (1 John 2:2). So, if we honour Him, we should also honour them. Such kindness to a non-Christian may result in their desire to find Jesus too.

Dear Lord. Thank You for reminding me that I am booked into Your diary to have my 'final appraisal' with You. Forgive me for not having thought much about this appointment or allowing it to shape my life now. Please help me to treat all people as Jesus did, seeking out those who others despise or ignore; and may my kindness to them be a sign of my gratitude for all You have done for me, and lead them to put their trust in Jesus too. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams