My thoughts are scattered – you’ll pick up on that very quickly. But based on my Facebook newsfeed, I’m not alone. There’s a bit of a justice vs mercy debate raging and I’m thinking.
For me thinking often comes in the form of a myriad of questions.
1. What is mercy?
The dictionary defines it in a number of ways:
compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence:
the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing:
the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
an act of kindness, compassion, or favor:
something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing:
2. What does it mean to stand for mercy?
3. Who will stand for mercy when the hashtag fades?
4. How long will this united stand for mercy last?
5. To whom does this mercy extend?
6. Who is standing for mercy here? (follow link here) ?
7. Do #Istandformercy when I am wronged?
8. How far does the stand for mercy stretch?
9. Does it stretch across the Pacific Ocean?
10. Does it stretch across the Indian Ocean?
11. Does it stretch across religious beliefs?
12. Does it stretch to cultural difference?
13. Does the stand for mercy stretch to our bank accounts?
14. Does it stretch to people who oppose me, people who disagree with me?
15. Does it stretch to those who don’t show mercy?
16. Does my stand for mercy apply to those who don’t rehabilitate?
17. Does it stretch to the reprobate?
18. Does it stretch to the recidivist?
19. What does this united stand mean tomorrow?
20. What does it mean next week, or a year from now?
Here’s what it means to God and here’s what I can be sure of now, in this moment. He loves justice – He also loves to show mercy. He is justice and mercy at once.
I’d like to believe that justice and mercy are of equal importance to me – but the truth is I know that mercy is something that I call for with less regularity than I do for justice.
In the story of the prodigal son, there are days when I’m the older brother – the “Come on! I was here doing the right thing all along – and you’re going to do what for him now??”
There are other days when I know I’m more like the younger brother.
So in this justice and mercy debate there’s a lot for us to think about, there’s a lot for me to think about.
I’ve said things this week about it – I’ve said if you go somewhere knowing the laws and that you intend to break them then you shouldn’t expect mercy when you are caught.
I’ve always been a bit of a stickler for consequences for wrong doing – blame it on a strong streak of justice.
But the thing I have to remember is that I have not been dealt with by God according to my sins – thankfully. There is a place for justice and there is a place for mercy. I can, in this situation, see both sides of the argument. Which leaves me fired up about one thing one minute and another thing a minute later. There are two sides – ultimately, neither of them can satisfy us. Because they both remind us of something – we live in a fallen world. We have all sinned and none of us qualifies as righteous. The fact remains that people will make decisions – they will have to face consequences, sometimes others will have to suffer the consequences too. And that, sadly, is the downside of freewill.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
He has shown you, O man,(Anne) what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, to love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity …
He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.
If we are going to stand for mercy – then let’s do it consistently from this point on.
Let’s apply it all the world over.
Let’s implement it indiscriminately.
Let’s allow it to soak into all that we do.
Let’s allow it to permeate all that we say and allow it to enrich and govern what think.
And let’s none of us forget where we would be, but for our God who is rich in mercy.