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Mercy and Justice - Discipleship Guide

Discipleship Guide James 2:13: Mercy and Justice

In the book of James, Chapter 2, we learn the importance of treating everyone with honor, no matter what their outward appearance might suggest about them. James calls on Christians to extend mercy in the same way that we would like to receive mercy. Mercy should overrule any judgment we might have. In order to do this, we must honestly and intentionally examine our own biases. Many times, these are unconscious; our brains are wired to make assumptions about people. But when we become aware that our unconscious biases exist and when we become unsettled by them, we can begin the work of allowing mercy to overrule judgment. But true mercy is more than a feeling of pity; rather, it moves us in the direction of justice. Mercy invites us to “suffer with,” or be in solidarity with, those who suffer and struggle. It also invites us to move beyond the alleviation of suffering in order to look at why people are suffering in the first place. When we realize the depth and breadth of systemic injustice, we can feel overwhelmed. Yet we’re not called to “go it alone.” Instead, we’re called to reach out to others, trusting that God’s justice can create a community out of strangers as we resist evil, injustice, and oppression together.

  1. Have you ever been unfairly judged by others? What did that feel like? How did you respond?

  2. How have you experienced God’s mercy?

  3. Describe a time when another person extended mercy or compassion to you.

  4. Have you ever realized that you had an unconscious bias toward another person or a group of people? How did that bias affect your attitude and actions?

  5. What do you think it means to “suffer with” or be in solidarity with someone who is suffering or struggling?

  6. Have you ever reached out to others so that you could work together for justice? What was that experience like? If you’ve never done that, what might it look like for you to reach out to others in order to do the work of justice?

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