Attend your local church on a Sunday morning and there is a good chance you’ll hear the terms ‘grace’ and ‘mercy’. Seldom, however, are these terms explained. We glean from the context in which they are used that grace and mercy are things we want. We’re also told that these things come from God. What we don’t often hear is, ‘On what basis do we receive grace and mercy? And having received grace and mercy, how are we to respond?’
The last few weeks I have been teaching from the Book of James. This morning, our text was James 2:1-13. The main exhortation in this passage is against showing partiality. Specifically, James says, “don’t show favouritism” (James 2:1). My temptation, as a communicator, was to immediately jump into descriptions of what favouritism is and to talk about how we can avoid it. The danger with that approach, however, is I run the risk of reducing my sermon to mere moralistic teaching. Because Christianity isn’t a bunch of dos and don’ts, I need to make sure my teaching is not tantamount to naming dos and don’ts.
Mindful of this, I asked myself the question, ‘Why does God want me to not show favouritism? Could it have something to do with the manner in which He engages me?’
That’s where grace and mercy come in. Once we understand what it means for God to deal graciously and mercifully with us, we’re better positioned to apply exhortations like “don’t show favouritism.”
Have a listen. I’d be delighted to hear what you think.