Mercy or justice?

My friend, may I ask you a question? Is showing mercy to those who don’t deserve it fair? Doesn’t it seem to be problematic when justice is better served by withholding mercy? Is that what God want us to do when justice seems to be the right thing to do?

Life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I'm Mark Brunner.

We live in a society that is really hung up on fairness. It if isn’t fair, by someone’s standards, then it must be wrong. Some have even based their lack of faith on those standards. I recently had occasion to get into a bit of an argument with a friend who felt that way about God. “God isn’t fair. That’s why I’m not interested in worshipping Him.” This person knew some Bible stories and came up with the one of Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian church. “What did God do for him while his enemies were stoning him to death? You mean to tell me I should worship a merciless God who lets one of His own believers die that way?” God fortunately gave me the answer when I needed it the most. “He gave Stephen the ability to forgive those who stoned him.” I said. I don’t know if I changed his mind, but he did have to admit that the ability to show mercy to others, even when they had none for you, was a real gift that even he could value.

Showing mercy to those who don’t deserve it seems to be problematic. Is that what God want us to do?

Here’s a story: A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. Her son, a private in Napoleon’s army, had committed several serious crimes worthy of execution. When ushered into Napoleon’s presence with her pleas, the emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death. “But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained. “I plead for mercy.” Napoleon stood transfixed for a moment by the woman’s plea. Shifting his pose, he turned away from her for a moment and remarked, his back to her. “But your son does not deserve mercy,” he replied. “Sir,” the woman cried, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.” “Well, then,” the emperor said, “I will have mercy.” And he spared the woman’s son. (Luis Palau, Experiencing God's Forgiveness.)

Chales Swindoll writes: “Forgiveness is not an elective in the curriculum of life. It is a required course, and the exams are always tough to pass.” Forgiving others, showing them mercy even when they don’t deserve it, is a requirement of the Christian faith and it isn’t easy to do. It’s so important, however, that Christ himself put its importance even before holiness. He told the Pharisees “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matthew 12:7). When we forgive others who don’t merit that forgiveness, we draw ourselves into a relationship with Christ that can’t be earned by following the commandments but by living them. That’s the key to living a godly life; understanding that it is the nature of mercy that it can’t be merited. When we ask God to be merciful to us, we ought to do so with the understanding that we don’t deserve that mercy. In like manner, when others seek mercy from us it ought to be given freely. Any other way, and it just isn’t mercy.

We pray. Heavenly Father, answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.” Lord, like David, we cry out to you as our authority and the author of true mercy. Thank You for being a God of compassion and love. Life is hard enough without constantly being afraid of a God who’s out to get me. Help me see what you want me to see when You don’t lift the consequences of my actions. Help me to pay it forward to others when you do. Be that constant voice inside my head and the soothing arms around my heart. Mercy is a gift. Never let me forget to mirror to others the compassion You’ve shown me. In Jesus Name! Amen.

Therefore my friend, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:34) This Passing Day. May this passing day honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and be a blessing to you and everyone you meet. Find a stranger and say hello. Don't let another day pass without your day blessing someone else.

If you have a special prayer request, please send your request to ”This Passing Day!”

<> From Beech Springs, God bless you for Jesus sake.

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