Degrees Of Judgment, Or Compassion And Mercy?

A querist asks, “Does Matthew 5:7, James 2:13, Matthew 18:21-35 state that there are degrees of judgment; that some souls will be judged more leniently than others; that some will “get away” with more than others?”

All three of the passages mentioned emphasize compassion and mercy, not degrees of judgment. In the Greek language, the word “mercy” (eleos) means “kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.” Those individuals who have shown others no mercy need not expect mercy themselves when they stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

Note that in James 2:1-9, that the individuals James addressed, had shown partiality toward the poor instead of compassion. If they were to continue with this attitude, they would not receive mercy but judgment (James 2:13).

Our Lord indicates this same principle in Matthew 25:41-45. It is indeed the “merciful” who will obtain “mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Those who have been merciless need not expect mercy when they need it the most. The debtor who was extended mercy and forgiven of his tremendous debt (Matthew 18:24-27), would not so much as even consider disregarding the insignificant debt owed him by his fellow servant (Matthew 18:28-30). We can see the result of this kind of heartless attitude by the action his master took in Matthew 18:32-34. Christ lays down the spiritual principle for us in Matthew 18:35.

The bottom line is that none of us can hope to stand before God on our own merit. On judgment day, we will all stand in need of God’s mercy. However, before we can receive God’s mercy on that day, we must have extended mercy to others here upon the earth (James 2:13 NLT).

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets

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