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James 2:13

ESV For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
NIV because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
NASB For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
CSB For judgment is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
NLT There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
KJV For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

What does James 2:13 mean?

James's statement in this verse hints toward the theme he will use for the rest of this chapter: Those who trust in God live like it. As he wrote in prior verses, true believers speak and act in ways consistent with what they believe to be true. It isn't really such a radical idea, but it is an easy one to confuse.

In this verse, James writes that God will judge without mercy people who have shown no mercy to others. First, it's important to understand what this does not mean. It does not mean that a Christian who has been unmerciful at times will go to hell. It does not mean an unbeliever who is merciful will go to heaven.

What James means is that those who trust in God, who are in Christ, will show mercy to others. Of course, they won't be perfect. Christians still sin, in this and other ways. But trust in the God of mercy causes Christians to show mercy, at least as a matter of habit. One who never shows mercy, or rarely shows it, is not one who trusts in Christ, and God will not judge that person with mercy.

God will show mercy to those who are in Christ. His mercy is far superior to His judgment. In a similar way, it is far superior for us to show mercy to each other than to judge each other. And it is consistent with how God is treating us.
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