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Justice and Mercy

When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. -Proverbs 21:15 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” -Romans 12:19 "Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."-Matthew 9:13 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." -Matthew 5:7 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. -James 2:13 There's an attitude in the church that one's quality of Character either shows a quality of justice or a quality of mercy, but not both. My 9 year old suggests that justice is making sure wrongs are made right. Mercy, he says, is when you get you punishment lessened or removed, even though you're in guilty. I don't think he's wrong! Let's define these terms, from a biblical standpoint for a moment: Justice is not tolerating evil or wickedness, for example, throughout the Old Testament, God says that He will "Judge the Nations." God's justice means He will not tolerate evil forever, and, though He gives time for repentance, He WILL judge. God's mercy is showing lenience or forgiveness, even in the middle of obvious guilt. It's either a lessened punishment, or an absolute clearing of the debt. In Jesus' Parable of the merciful servant, the master forgave a debt that could not be repaid. He completely exonerated the debts of the servant. It seems, then, that the two are in contrast with one another, doesn't it? Justice is writing wrongs, and even removing the offenders, while Mercy is forgiving debts. But I want to suggest, using this quote from the movie "The Road to El Dorado," : Both is Good (this is a direct quote, I promise I'm not practicing bad grammar).

May I suggest that both are equally necessary? We should not tolerate evil. So many in the church have tolerated blatant sin because they feel they're not showing enough mercy or grace. And what do we see in these churches? We might see full pews or seats, but we also see an absence of teaching God's truths. We see a distortion of facts, and Christian values, all in the names of being "tolerant." On the other side, there are churches that do show absolute justice and intolerance of sin, but have no mercy whatsoever. They come across (And likely are) extremely judgmental, forgetting who they were before Jesus forgave them for their sins. We do not sit on the judgement seat of God, but we must also exercise judgement within His church. Sin is never tolerable, but God rich in mercy forgives us when we surrender to Him. And show we need to be patient with the young in the faith, using both Justice and Mercy to help everyone reach maturity, loving one another, even those who we must discipline, in the hopes that they may return and see God for who He is. 1 Corinthians 5 English Standard Version (ESV) It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.[a] Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[b] whom you are to judge? 13 God judges[c] those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” Footnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 5:5 Some manuscripts add Jesus

  2. 1 Corinthians 5:12 Greek those inside

  3. 1 Corinthians 5:13 Or will judge

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