The NT Concept of Showing Mercy to the Poor

In the larger context of the NT, James applies this concept of mercy to the poor. James 2:1-9, 13 reads:

1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.

2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,

3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,”

4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?

7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

8 If you really fulfill 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.

13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Jesus said, blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Again, this blessing is eschatological. James 2:13 concurs, “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” The judgment of God shall be merciful to those who are merciful. In this way, mercy wins over judgment.

At the Special Olympics in Seattle a few years ago, nine mentally handicapped children lined up at the starting line for the 100 yard dash. At the gun they all came out sprinting as fast as they could.

One little boy, in the middle of the pack, stumbled and fell down, and began to cry in shame and disappointment and embarrassment. The other eight heard his cries and slowed down and stopped and turned around and walked back        to him.

A little girl with Down Syndrome bent down to help him up and kissed him and said “this will make it better.” And then all nine held hands and walked to the finish line.

The crowd, at first silent, cheered for a long time.[1]

Do you find it hard to show mercy to the poor and needy? If the mentally-handicapped kids can show mercy to one of their own, surely we can show mercy to the needy around us.

Are you merciful to the poor and the needy? If so, blessed are you, for you shall receive mercy. God Himself shall show mercy to you on the last day.


[1] Ken Sapp, “Blessed are the Meek.” Cited August 24, 2013. Online: http://www.creativeyouthideas.com/resources/youth-sermons/blessed-are-the-meek/

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