How Preaching James 2:12-13 Saved Me in the Parking Lot

I was standing right here when it happened! Except I was also standing right here when I took this picture 8 months ago.

I was standing right here when it happened! Except I was also standing right here when I took this picture 8 months ago.

To be honest, I picked James 2:12-13 for pragmatic reasons: I wanted to prepare something that would overlap with my evening service assignment (anything in chapter 2) and this was the shortest passage. I wasn’t looking to the do the least work, but to preach something simple and bold. The exegesis went well, I enjoyed outlining and writing, and even looked forward to the sermon, but didn’t know what I would write about in my reflection paper.

Then Easter weekend hit. I should say then Dr. Vidu’s term paper hit, then Easter weekend hit. In order to piece together my mentored ministry hours, I had committed to every opportunity at church, without realizing how it would all add up. I was thankful, but exhausted. Trying to stay spiritually healthy going into finals, but afraid. Just having finished a short Easter sermon, my mind didn’t feel ready to internalize one for class on Monday. Annie left on a business trip. I was in the feedback-loop of high productivity expectations and mental burnout. And Dr. Vidu’s paper kept (and keeps) knocking.

When I got a bad grade Tuesday morning, I lost it. I gave the wind a piece of my mind all the way down to Graham. The outline for my scathing course evaluation came together very nicely. To my further frustration, I somehow had to get into sermon mode. And preach that all that matters on judgment day is love and mercy. That’s when my sermon saved me. “Judgment is without mercy for those who have shown no mercy” pulled me out of my downward spiral, into a merciful attitude. The Word prepared me to preach the Word. And gave me a new application, more vivid than the one I had planned. He gave me a reflection paper. And saved me from a bitter Tuesday. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:12–13
12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.


About Alex Kato

Born and raised in Seattle, my wife Annie and I first left town so I could attend Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. We now live in New Jersey, where I am working on a PhD in homiletics (the study of preaching) at Princeton Theological Seminary. I love to converse, preach, read, write, and teach. Someday I hope to serve Jesus Christ's Church through both preaching and teaching preaching.
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