For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (ESV)
How do you react when someone wrongs you? When someone cuts you off in traffic is your first response to wish that the driver who offended you receive a traffic violation ticket? If you are verbally assaulted by a relative do you respond with an appropriate shunning of that person? If someone were to take the innocent life of someone you love would your respond by wishing them dead, or maybe even taking action to that effect?
Sadly, our natural tendency is to demand judgment for anyone who has wronged us for any reason. While responding to people with a demand for judgment is a human tendency it should not be the tendency of someone who knows God. James tells us in this verse what our response should be. Mercy.
Judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Who is James referring to? James is describing a person who has not received the divine mercy of God. Mercy is a divine attribute. As we have already discovered, our natural tendency is judgment, not mercy. The one who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ receives a new character, has new tendencies, has divine attributes. This includes the ability to offer mercy, and not judgment to a brother who offends us.
Mercy triumphs over judgment. Let's think about that for a moment. Imagine a story in which a person had their three year old child killed by a drunk driver. Judgment would be the driver getting life in prison. Mercy would be the drunk driver being adopted into the family of the victim child. You probably don't like that story. But, I will tell you another story. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Mercy. Undeserved.
Have you received God's mercy? Ask the Lord to help you think mercy first, not judgment. If you are a recipient of mercy, there are others who need to receive the mercy you have. Mercy triumphs over judgment.