These three requirements seem fairly simple. When we read them, we probably think that we already do these. And perhaps, to some extent, we do. Justice and kindness are things that we do naturally, right? What about the thoughts and the words that we speak when others are not around, are they just and kind? When someone wrongs you, are your thoughts of mercy or revenge? When you see others being mistreated, are you willing to get involved, regardless of the personal cost (Think of the Good Samaritan)? Walk humbly is the really tough one. Are we humble enough to give of our resources, of ourselves, of our abundance and of our time to help others? Even to the point of dying for them? And, if we do these things, are they to show others how righteous we are? Every good gift comes down from the Father above. When we share those gifts with others, we are laying up rewards in heaven. Walk humbly with our God? Help me to do that, Jesus!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. — James 2:10-13 NIV
God gave the Old Testament law to the children of Israel to show them that it was impossible for a mere human to live a life free of sin. No one was able to live a life without sin, so God, in His mercy established rituals and procedures for them to keep. As long as they stayed obedient to these rituals, they were not punished for their sins. Mercy is the lack of or a lesser punishment than our sins deserve(d). Just as the people back then received mercy, we can and do receive mercy without receiving salvation. It is God’s mercy that allows us to go on living, even when we choose a lifestyle of sin. We live under the law or covenant of grace. This does not mean that we don’t sin, it just means that we have a way of being forgiven without the rituals. Grace is God choosing to bless us even though we don’t deserve it. It is our faith in His grace that saves us. When we feel that someone has wronged us in any way, we must show them mercy because of the mercy that God has shown us. We must temper our judgment with mercy, realizing that we have received so much more than mercy from Jesus Christ. We should also show them grace, in the sense that it means showing them affection and kindness even though they are not worthy of it. Neither were/are we worthy of God’s mercy and grace, yet He went so far as to die for us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:6-8 NIV
This is why we must show mercy, grace and forgiveness to those around us. We can and must forgive them of their sinful acts toward us. But only God can forgive us for all of our sins. Our mercy and grace is limited to what is done to us. God’s mercy and grace is unlimited. Only His grace can restore our relationship with God the Father. We must ask for His forgiveness believing that by grace through faith we have been saved, are being saved and will be completely saved.
24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.25 Therefore he is able to save completely[ those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. – Hebrews 7:24, 25 NIV
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.—Gal. 5:7, 8 (NIV)
The new converts had started off “on fire” but now they were being hampered by those around them. Let each of us think back to the time that we accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Now, let each of us compare our enthusiasm and boldness for telling others about Jesus then and our enthusiasm and boldness for doing that now. Who or what “cut in on us” or kept us from spreading the Good News about salvation. Was it the mocking of “friends” or the cares of this world that hampered us? Are we more concerned about other people’s opinions of us than we are about what Jesus thinks about us? Does it even matter if we tell others about Jesus and His mercy? Do we think that Jesus isn’t watching? Or do we do the things we do and act the way we act because we know that Jesus will forgive us but our family, friends and neighbors might not? That kind of thinking does not come from the Holy Spirit. 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.–Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?—Gal. 3:1-5 (NASB)
There were religious leaders and teachers that were trying to convince the new converts that the Gospel was not true. They taught that you must still obey the law to please God. But the Good News is that we are now saved by grace through faith, not by works. Once we have accepted this truth, then the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us and lead us into all truth. The Holy Spirit could not be obtained by works or by obedience to the law. There is only one way to receive the Holy Spirit and that is by hearing the Word of grace and ,by faith, accepting Jesus as our Savior. Adding anything to God’s plan is nothing but vanity and man’s pride. We still have to answer the same question today. Are we saved by God who works miracles among us and provides us with His Holy Spirit? Yes, yes, we are! And once we accept Jesus, is there some great work we must do to be sure make it to heaven? The answer is no, works still cannot obtain our salvation. There are works that we should do, yes, but they do not add to our salvation. Our works are how we store up rewards in heaven. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.-Matt. 16:26,27(NKJV)