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Merciful Justice

691gavelMercy and Justice are two concepts that all people cry out for. Governments rise and fall as people constantly try to achieve a correct balance between these two pillars of human interaction.  Whatever system we find ourselves a part of, we will perceive a lack of mercy or justice depending upon our position within it. People’s hearts are torn between the two positions, yet both are essential.

Mercy is a benefit that we usually want applied to us, our family, our friends and those we perceive to be like us. We want the full weight of our goodness and human worth to be brought to bear against our guilt and debt. Fairness is to be determined by considering others who received leniency in like circumstances. We desire the smallest possible penalty to be assessed, if not complete absolution.

Justice is a judgment we want to be executed upon those who offend us or offend others we identify with. We expect the full penalty of their wrongdoing to be brought to bear against them. The idea of fairness now focuses on receiving a punishment that reflects the heinous nature of the offense. A penalty that is considered full payment is demanded.

In simplest terms, when we steal we want the value of the item we took to be considered minimal and the circumstances that prompted us to steal to be fully considered. Our punishment should fit the circumstances. If something is stolen from us we want the value of the object to be considered substantial and the circumstances of the thief to be irrelevant. The punishment should be purely determined on the basis of the rule broken.

Humans have never been able to properly balance mercy and justice because we always consider them based on our relationship to the offense. God, however, does not judge in this manner.  God’s mercy is a product of His love for all people and His justice is from the perspective of one who has never compromised.  The Word of God tells us that His mercy endures forever but also says His judgments are true and righteous. It is God who said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone and Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.”

The Father was able to express both mercy and justice in their most extreme forms while keeping them in perfect balance. He substituted His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for every wrong we have done, for all evil we have practiced and for every sin we have committed. Jesus suffered every kind of punishment that can be assessed for any crime, including incarceration, humiliation, rejection, shame, beatings, torture and execution. He committed no offense to deserve the punishment. Even the judge said he found no fault in Him. The punishment He received was ours. Mercy was accomplished in that we were spared the punishment we deserved but justice in that the full penalty for our sin was paid.

If we accept the payment Jesus made we can be exempt from the effects of sin on our lives. We can be free from guilt, shame, sadness and torment caused by our own actions because the price was paid in full. We can be free from bitterness, anger, depression and fear, caused by the actions of others because we can forgive knowing that the offense was fully punished. We can also escape the physical effects of these dispositions on our bodies, because, we are healed by his wounds. This is fully described in the book of Isaiah chapter 53 in the Bible. It was written at least 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, yet perfectly portrays the sufferings He endured for us, and the intended purpose. The greatest benefit of all is eternal life with God.

To receive the full effect of this merciful justice, we must believe that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our specific sins and the sins of all people. We must accept His payment in full as our only claim to right relationship with God and turn away from our sins. We must make Jesus the ruler of our lives and be willing to publicly confess our relationship to Him. If we do this, He will put His Spirit in us and change us to be like Him.

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