Greetings in the name above all names, the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:12) And at His name every knee will bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord. (Phil.2:9-11) By God’s grace we do that now willingly and happily. (Eph.3:14) Thank you all again for joining with us for our studies in God’s word. We are in our series on the book of James. Today is our eleventh study.
Before we open up our Bibles to our study section. I want to read something to you from our secondary standards. Remember, I am a Presbyterian minister, we believe that the Westminster Confession and Catechisms best summarize the doctrines taught in the Bible. This Assembly met regularly from July 1, 1643 until February 22, 1649. Then they met occasionally till 1652. Listen to this with an ear to benefit from today’s Bible study.
WSC 90 How is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation? A. That the word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence,(1) preparation,(2) and prayer;(3) receive it with faith and love,(4) lay it up in our hearts,(5) and practice it in our lives.(6)
(1)Prov. 8:34 (2)1 Pet. 2:1,2 (3)Ps. 119:18 (4)Heb. 4:2; 2 Thess. 2:10 (5)Ps. 119:11 (6)Luke 8:15; James 1:25
Now given that call to read and hear the Scriptures with faith and love and purpose, please open your Bible to James chapter two. I will read for us James 2:8-13. Hear God’s holy Word. Read.
James 2:8. If, however, you are fulfilling 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 and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
Let’s go to God in prayer and seek His help for our study of His word.
The duty to love.
This passage is about our duty to love. Jesus Christ says the whole moral law of God is summarized under two great laws. The first and the greatest is to love God with all our being, to love Him perfectly. The second law, which is like the first, is to love our neighbor as we love our self. (Mt.22:37-40)
The specific command in our passage is the second greatest commandment, to love our fellow man. This includes to love our fellow Christian, and to love our enemy as we love our self, to love others from the heart and with loving words and deeds. Well, that is what James talks about today, he calls this the royal law of love and the law of liberty.
Before I move on to that. Let me just give us my basic definition of love. It is warm or benevolent feelings or affections that will give birth to loving words and deeds. In other words, love is an affection, an emotion of the heart that induces our will to speak and act lovingly. (I Cor.13:1-13)
I leave all the usual discussions about the different Greek words for love and all the supposed different meanings to more gifted people.
These words by Jesus are our guide in love.
John 13:34. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Remember, God is a God of love. It was for love that God sent the Son to save us. (Jn.3:16) Christ is a Savior of love. The Spirit is a Spirit of love. The Bible is a book of love. And we are God’s children in Christ, we are to be a people of love that bear the fruit of love. (I Jn.4:1-24, Rom.5:5, Gal.4:6, Gal.5:22) In love we have been saved. And we have been saved to love.
Listen to the apostle whom Christ loved.
I John 4:9. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Now let’s unpack our passage.
Sinful discrimination breaks the law of love.
When James says “if however” by this he will now draw some conclusions about what he has previously been saying to his readership about showing sinful favoritism. They showed favoritism to the rich in the church and they showed contempt for the poor in the church. (James 2:1-7)
We see another example of this in the NT Church when the native Jewish Christians were serving the native Jewish Christian widows and they were neglecting the Greek-Hellenized Jewish Christian widows in the daily food ration. (Acts 6:1) They were respecting certain kinds of Christians while showing contempt for other kinds of Christians based on ethnicity.
Remember even true Believers still have the corrupt flesh, and even we are prone to deceive ourselves. (I Pt.2:11, Jas.4:1-10, Rom.7:1-25) No doubt the professing Christians that were engaging in this sinful discrimination did so under some pretense of righteousness. In other words, likely they were not saying, oh, I know that I am openly sinning by doing this, and I am going to do it anyway. No. Most often we tend to rationalize our sinful desires and behavior. And we do so in such a way as to make our sin seem like righteousness. (Jer.17:7) Remember Judas? He scolded the woman for pouring the expensive perfume on the feet of Christ under a pretense for being concerned for the poor. But in reality, he was mad because he was a thief and there was now less money to steal from the money bag. (Jn.12:1-8, see also Mt.26:6-13, Mk.14:3-9)
The church people of James 2:1-7 could have reasoned, well the Bible says to give honor to honor is due. And since the rich men are the leaders in society then we are giving them proper honor. (Rom.13:7) Or with the example with preferring the Jewish widows over the Gentile widows they could have reasoned in some way the Jewish women were more needy.
Thomas Manton says, sin loves to walk under a disguise, our self-love loves to use a mask to cover our sins. How sad. We remember the devil’s method is also to disguise himself as an angel of light. (2 Cor.11:4)
This is why we need to examine our hearts. And we need to be especially careful about our affections and actions. This is especially so if there might be any advantage to ourselves in the situation. In other words, if we sinfully defer to the rich Believers might they in some way benefit us materially or financially? If yes, then be on special guard against the self-deceit of our heart seeking advantage for self.
Love fulfills the Law of God.
James now speaks about fulfilling the Law of God.
James 2:8. If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture,
Now some conclude by this that James teaches that it is possible to keep the Law of God perfectly the way that God requires us to. (WCF 19.2) People that believe we can either do what the law requires, or do even more than the law requires (Romanism: works of supererogation) would also appeal to passages like these.
Luke 1:6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 2:10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers.
But the idea is not that a Believer may keep the whole law perfectly but that a Believer has an honest or sincere respect for the whole law. And more specifically that love is the thing that fulfills the whole law. Because if you love God and man then you will not sin against them and you will treat them accordingly.
A side note. No mere man in this life can keep the moral law of God perfectly. (WSC 82) Only Christ did. And He did for us. Only in heaven will believers keep the moral law of God perfectly.
Love is the Royal law.
All of the specific commandments as well as the summary commandment to love our neighbor as our self comes from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Rev.17:14, 19:16) And as such the Royal Law reflects the character of the King, holy and perfect and good.
Revelation 15:3 And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! (Num.21:22)
There is no higher authority above God. His laws supersede all other laws. His laws are the basis for all righteous law. All laws that are contrary to God’s laws are wrong and sinful. God’s law is magisterial. Our laws are ministerial, meaning they are to minister His laws or ought to reflect His laws.
And as such God has the authority to command us to any duty He sees fit. And if we say that God is our King then we our oath-bound to obey His commands, to give Him respect as our heavenly Father and to give Him obedience as our Sovereign Governor. (Mal.1:6, 2 Tim.4:8)
And this Royal Law is meant to be for God’s royal children, a whole nation of kings and priests that are holy and righteous in Jesus. (Rev.1:6) And so this royal law determines kingdom conduct. (see the Beatitudes and Similitudes. Mt.5:1-16)
Love as our duty is found within the Scriptures.
See how James speaks about our knowing the duty of loving our neighbor recorded in the holy Scriptures. The Bible contains the Law of God. The Bible contains the Gospel of God. The Bible alone is where and how God reveals Himself to us savingly.
In ancient times God still made use of dreams and visions. Now in the NT epoch, the Bible says that in these Last Days the written Word of God, the Holy Bible is our guide for faith and for life. (Heb.1:1-3) Everything that God wants us to believe about Him and what duty He requires of us are found in the Scriptures. (2 Tim.3:15-17)
Listen to how our confession summarizes what the Bible teaches about Itself.
WCF 1.6 The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture:
Now certainly, some things are more clear than other things in the Bible. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the great clear and necessary truth in Scripture. (Jn.3:16, Rom.5:1-10)
WCF 1.7 All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all;(1) yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.(2) (1)2 Pet. 3:16, (2)Ps. 119:105,130.
Not only is the Gospel clear so too is our duty to love God and Man. It is expressly stated, there is no need to deduce or make inference. Listen to God.
Leviticus 19:18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
Matthew 22:39. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Romans 13:8. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Galatians 5:14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Husbands love their wives. (Eph.5:28) Christians love other Christians. (Jn.13:34)
Love as our duty is commended by the Scriptures.
Then James tells us, not only does God command the duty of love, but He also commends us when we love.
James 2:8. If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well.
Think of that. When you love another Christian for Christ’s sake, when you think of him or her higher than yourself for Christ sake, because the Bible tells you to, imagine hearing God say to you, well done My good and faithful servant! What encouragement!
The best way to test if we are living a Christ-honoring life is to examine our life by the Scriptures. (Acts 17:11) The Law is especially helpful in this. Am I coveting or am I content? To the Law and to the Testimony. (Isa.8:20, Rom.7:9, Rom.3:20) And of course, we always ought to look to our Christ and ask ourselves, am I walking in His footsteps? Does my affection imitate His? Do my words imitate His? Are my actions full of love like His? Jesus is our great example. (I Pt.1:21, Eph.5:1-12, I Cor.11:1)
Lovelessness is condemned by the Scriptures.
But the same God that commends our obedience to His law in the Scriptures also condemns our disobedience to the royal law to love our neighbor as ourselves.
James 2:9. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
So, if we do not love our fellow Christian as evidenced by our continued improper discrimination, then God’s verdict is we are sinning.
While we may deceive ourselves and our consciences may not convict us when we sin, we never deceive God. When we disguise our sin as religious observance, God is not fooled. We can justify our sin all day long, we can come up with great sounding arguments for why our sin is not sin, we can convince ourselves, we can convince others, but God knows the truth of our heart.
Lovelessness is condemned in its varied forms by the Scriptures.
Now the Holy Spirit wants to remind God’s people that the Law of God is to be kept pure and entire. This means that Believers are not free to pick and choose which laws of God they intend to obey. And by this, I mean they cannot keep only some of God’s laws and then comfort themselves that they are good “law-keepers” living in a Christ pleasing fashion.
James 2:10. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
In context with James 2:1-7, if you say, well I honored the rich man because the Bible says give honor to whom honor is due. Ok. But the Bible also says, love your neighbor as yourself. And when you treat the poor Believer with contempt and consigned him or her to a less desirable place within the church then you are breaking God’s law to love.
Though Christ has satisfied the demands of the law for us (by way of covenant of works), so the covenant is to us a covenant of grace. Yet, Christ’s satisfaction of the Law does not lessen the demands of the Law, which is perfection. (Mt.5:19)
Then the Holy Spirit inspires James to give an example from the moral Law to illustrate his point. He says, if you keep the 7th commandment but break the 6th commandment then God considers you a lawbreaker.
James 2:10. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
Adultery is such an obvious sin that James assumes his readership would agree. Yes, God does say, thou shall not commit adultery. (Exod.20:14, Lev.20:10, Prov.6:32) And he assumes his readership will say, yes, adultery is obnoxious to God and to me, I do not commit adultery. (Heb.13:4) So far so good.
But then he introduces murder. Remember the context of the sinful favoritism and sinful discrimination against fellow Christians being an expression of lovelessness. Lovelessness is an expression of hate, it is hate in its infancy. Hate is the heart-sin that left unchecked brings forth actual murder. Hate is heart-murder. Lovelessness is heart-murder in the seed! (I Jn.3:15, Mt.5:21-26, Exod.20:13)
And murderers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Not loving anyone, hating anyone is contrary to God’s law. The idea is, God wants us to keep all the commandments from the heart, from a heart of love to God and love to man.
Love is to be manifested in our speech and actions.
James continues to speak on the royal law to love our neighbor as our self. And I would add, for God’s sake or for Christ’s sake.
What I mean is that we are to obey the second table of the Law, commandments 5-10, our duty towards Man because of our duty towards God, commandments 1-4, the first table of the law. In other words, we love man because we love God and God tells us to love man.
And that love which God requires must manifest itself in deeds. Just like the non-love or the hate manifests itself in sinful discrimination in so many ways, in our passage in the higher and lower seating places. You “say” you sit there. That is un-love in words and in deeds. What was in the heart came out. (James 2:2-3)
God wants the opposite to happen. A heart of love that brings forth words and actions of love.
James 2:12. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
Listen to the apostle John.
1 John 3:16. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him.
The deeds of love and faith confirm the true existence of love and faith.
James specifically wants us as Believers to express love for our Brothers and Sisters in Christ with our words and with our actions. Christ purchased our lips with His precious blood for holy use. The words we speak to and about other people indicate the nature of our heart. The outward fruits of our lives seen in our actions to others indicate if we are truly united to the True Vine or not. (Mt.12:34-37, Col.4:6, Jn.15:1-10, Mt.7:15-20)
Love is going to be evaluated by God our Judge.
The Holy Spirit wants us to be loving in our words and deeds, as those that are going to be judged.
Briefly James tells these Christians that they should live in such a way that they would not be ashamed to have God judge their lives. (2 Cor.5:10, Rom.14:10, I Cor.3:14)
So, speak and act in such a way as if God were viewing or hearing your life and in such a way that God would approve of. Live your life, aware that you are being evaluated by God. (Gen.18:25, Ps.7:8, 75:7, 96:10-13, Mt.16:27, Acts 10:42)
Hebrews 4:13. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (2 Cor.5:9-11)
By God’s grace there is much benefit and blessings when we think often and seriously about the Day of Judgment. This practice helps us live holy and sober lives. This practice helps us fear God more than we fear Man. (read WCF 32 & 33)
When we think about The Master returning to Whom we must give an account of ourselves and our service then we are motivated to loyal activity. (Mt.24:45) This is not so that thinking on Judgment Day would reduce us to cringing fear. No.
As Believers in Jesus there is now no more condemnation. Christ has freed us from the wrath of the broken Law. But we still labor to obey the law as our service of love that we want to present to Christ on the Last Day. We do not love in word in deed to earn our salvation. We love God and Man because God in Christ has saved us. This will redound His glory. Faith in Jesus enables us to love God and Man in word and deed! To God be the glory! (I Jn.4:17, 2 Tim.4:8, WCF 19.5-6, WLC 93-98)
Love towards the needy is especially going to be evaluated by God our Judge.
And one special aspect of the evaluation of our love at the Last Day will be our love to the needy.
James brings up the ideas of mercy versus no mercy. Or mercy versus judgment or mercy versus strict justice.
For my purposes, let me give a very basic definition of mercy. Mercy is love extended to the needy. This is either love given to the physically needy or to the spiritually needy. This is love seeking to alleviate their neediness.
And often times this is love to not only those in need but to those that have also demerited our love.
For example, let’s say a poor man steals from a rich man. And the rich man has it in his power to condemn the poor man to be sold into slavery to pay for the theft. Well, the poor man is needy. The poor man actually deserves punishment. Love to such a one is mercy. Love is rather than selling them as a slave instead adopts them as a son and lavishes upon them gift upon gift.
That is love to the needy. That is mercy. God especially delights in giving His love to the needy. God is full of mercy, love for sinners. (Ps.145:8, 86:15, Eph.2:4-10)
I have no doubt that in part James is applying this to the previously mentioned sin of deprecating poor Believers, not being merciful to the poor Christians.
James is trying to get these Christians to admit they have ALL fallen short of the glory of God. And daily come up short with the Law, and ALL deserve death. So, when any one of us comes to God, we plead the only thing guilty people CAN plead. Mercy. Please forgive me. I cannot repay You. Please freely pardon me based on Your own mercy.
And God grants that petition in Christ. And God expects those freely forgiven to go and do likewise, to imitate Him. And when we show mercy to others, we testify that God in Christ has shown mercy to us. Listen to this.
Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Luke 23:34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
Luke 6:35. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.
Lovelessness towards the needy is especially provocative to God.
But if we do not have love, if we do not show love to the needy, mercy to sinners, then God will withhold mercy from us. If we treat others with strict justice, then God will treat us with strict justice. (Mt.18:21-33, 6:14-15) Lovelessness, mercilessness, shows that we are unconverted, that we are still dead in our sins and trespasses, that we are not savingly in Christ.
James 2:12. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
Matthew 7:2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
Oh Beloved, what a strong warning to remember to love the unlovely, people just like us. Beloved we live in the Last Days. Please take this warning as regards to our duty to love God and to love Man.
Matthew 24:12. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
2 Timothy 3:1. But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
- How is the Bible to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation? (Prov.8:34, I Pt.2:1-2, Ps.119:18, Heb.4:2, 2 Thess.2:10-13, Ps.119:11, Lk.8:15, Jas.1:25, Rom.10:1-17, Jn.17:17)
- Where is the moral law of God summarized? What are the two greatest commandments of God? What are some of the attributes of love? Why should we love God? Why should we love people? Why should we love fellow Christians especially? How is loving others an imitation of God? Of Christ? (Exod.20:1-17, Dt.5:1-21, Mt.22:37-40, I Cor.13:1-13, Jn.13:34-35, Jn.3:16, I Jn.4:1-24, Rom.5:5, Gal.4:6, Gal.5:22)
- How does sinful favoritism and discrimination break the law of love? In what ways is it unloving to sinfully discriminate? Think of the examples of the rich and the poor and of ethnic or cultural favoritism. Why are true Believers still prone to this sin? How do we often disguise this sin? What should we do about it? (James 2:1-13, Acts 6:1, Num.12:1-10, I Pt.2:11, Jas.4:1-10, Rom.7:1-25, Jer.17:7, Jn.12:1-8,2 Cor.11:4)
- James calls the commandment to love our neighbor the royal law. How does this law reflect the royalty of the Lawgiver? How does it reflect royalty to its adherents? In what way is love for others the law of living in Christ’s kingdom? Where does the Bible clearly command us to love other people? What lessons do we learn by this? (Jas.2:8, Rev.17:14, 19:16, 15:3, Num.21:22, Rev.1:6, Mt.5:1-16, Lev.19:18, Mt.22:39-40, Rom.13:8-10, Gal.5:14, Eph.5:28, Jn.13:34)
- How should God’s commendation of our obedience to His commands inform us and motivate us? How does the promise to hear from Christ, “well done good and faithful servant”, for your obedience to Him affect you and motivate you? How can you tell if you are obeying God? What standards do you use? Should we practice self-evaluation of our obedience to God? Why? How? (Jas.2:8, Mt.25:14-40, Lk.11:28, Acts 17:11, Isa.8:20, Rom.7:9, Rom.3:20, I Pt.1:21, Eph.5:1-12, I Cor.11:1)
- How should God’s condemnation of disobedience to His word and specifically against all forms of non-love affect and motivate us? Is God displeased with the sin of true Believers? Does He express His displeasure for our disobedience? How? Why? (Jas.2:9, I Pt.4:17, WLC 151, Rev.2:1-29, Rev.3:1-22, Heb.12:1-15)
- Does God require us to keep all of the Law or only part of the Law? Does Jesus keep all of the Law for us or only part of the Law? Why should we strive to keep all of the Law since we are now in Christ and not under the condemnation of the broken law? What are some ways that even true Christians pick and choose which laws they like and which they intend to obey and others that they do not? What are some truths that James teaches by using the 7th and the 6th commandments? (Jas.2:10, Exod.20:14, Lev.20:10, Prov.6:32, Heb.13:4, I Jn.3:15, Mt.5:21-26, Exod.20:13, WCF 19.2-6, WLC 93-98, WCF 20.1)
- James wants the love in our heart to come out in loving words and loving deeds. Why are loving deeds so important in the life of a Believer? What are some ways we express what is in our heart by our words and deeds? Give some examples of loving words and deeds to fellow Believers. (Jas.2:1-13, I Jn.3:16-19, Mt.12:34-37, Col.4:6, Jn.15:1-10, Mt.7:15-20, WCF 16.1-6)
- How does knowing that God does and will evaluate your life for Him affect you? (Jas.2:12-13, Gen.18:25, Ps.7:8, 75:7, 96:10-13, Mt.16:27, Acts 10:42, Heb.4:13, 2 Cor.5:9-11, WCF 32 & 33, I Jn.4:17, 2 Tim.4:8)
- What is mercy? Why and how is mercy an expression of love? Upon whom should we have mercy? Is God merciful? Is Christ merciful? How? How does God’s love-mercy to us in Christ inform and motivate us to have mercy on others? (Jas.2:12-13, Ps.145:8, 86:15, Eph.2:4-10, Mt.5:7, Mt.6:12, Lk.23:34, Lk.6:35-37)
- If we do not have love-mercy on others what does this indicate about our spiritual condition? If we do not extend love-mercy to others what does God’s word say about that? If we treat others according to strict justice how will God treat us? How should this change us? (Jas.2:12-13, Mt.18:21-35, Mt. 6:14-15, Mt.7:2, Mt.24:12-14, 2 Tim.3:1-5, Lk.6:31-38, Lk.7:36-50, Lk.15:25-32)
- Interact with these two quotes by John Newton. “If you once love Him, you will study to please Him.” “I am persuaded that love and humility are the highest attainments in the school of Christ and the brightest evidences that He is indeed our Master.”