James 2:1-13 | “At the judgement seat of Christ, we will be in need of MUCH mercy!”
The believer, in himself, will always deserve God’s judgment: our conformity to the ‘royal law’ is never perfect, as it must be (vv. 10–11).
As Hort describes the image, ‘krisis [judgment] comes so to speak as the accuser before the tribunal of God, and eleos [mercy] stands up fearlessly and as it were defiantly to resist the claim’. The believer, in himself, will always deserve God’s judgment: our conformity to the ‘royal law’ is never perfect, as it must be (vv. 10–11). But our merciful attitude and actions will count as evidence of the presence of Christ within us. And it is on the basis of this union with the One who perfectly fulfilled the law for us that we can have confidence for vindication at the judgment.
Moo, D. J.
Such is the solemnity of the Judgment Seat of Christ, however, that no man can view it without sensing how awesome and exacting it must be. Any reasonable person must know that a judgment of his Christian life “by the book” (i.e., with full strictness) is likely to leave him with much censure from his Savior and with much loss of potential reward. What is needed in that day is mercy—a willingness on the part of our Lord and Judge to assess our words and deeds with the fullest possible measure of compassion. But how can we store up the mercy which will be so urgently needed in that day?
James’s answer is simple and thrilling: he commends mercy. For if the one who has shown no mercy will experience none in that day, the converse must certainly be true: the one who has shown much mercy will experience much. Indeed, the mercy we show to others can actually “win the day” at that future experience of judgment, for mercy triumphs over judgment. The word triumphs (katakauchaomai) could be rendered “exults over,” as if mercy could celebrate with words its victory over judgment. Hence, if a Christian constantly tempers his words and deeds with mercy, he can emerge a victor in the day of divine assessment.
In this light, then, the cold indifference toward the poor man of vv 2–3 was a dangerous procedure to follow. Instead, that poor man should have been welcomed with the warmth and sensitivity which the merciful person is careful to express. Only in that way would their treatment of him be a positive, rather than a negative, factor at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Hodges, Z. C.