"Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!" James 2: 12-13
It has been suggested that who you are under pressure is revealing of who you really are. I tend to believe that.
You must keep in mind as you read and study James that these are Christians under pressure. Pressure most of us have never known, the pressure of persecution.
As James describes what faith should look like and how people of faith should live, it is being lived out under pressure. Faith is giving your best when life deals the worst! Do you return mercy for malice?
In these verses he reminds you that you will be judged and your faith will be judged based on how well your actions and attitudes match those of the Savior. If you say you have faith but do not demonstrate love your faith will be judged as insincere.
The context for faith in this instance is within the meeting of believers. How do you show love to a guests who comes into you meeting? Do you size them up or do you serve them? Do you act differently to a wealthy looking person than to a shabbily dressed one? Faith looks for what it can give rather than what it can gain. Here's an example:
In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days he read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity. He believed that in the teachings of Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India. So one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian. When he entered the sanctuary, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested that he ought to worship with his own people. Gandhi left the church and never returned, “If Christians have caste differences also, “ he said, “I might as well remain a Hindu.” That usher’s prejudice not only betrayed Jesus but also turned a person away from trusting Him as Savior.
Your faith is being continually judged by how you treat others. You will be ultimately judged by how you treat others. If you want to be judged mercifully, give mercy. Show kindness and love to whoever comes into your world.