Justice and mercy


"An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Good old Biblical justice; sounds a bit hard, but it is reasonable. Murder someone and you lose your own life. Work over the trains with a spray can and you have to pay for a new paint job. Biblical justice was simple and straightforward. The punishment would always fit the crime. Naturally the circumstances and motive had to be considered, but in the end, hurt had to be paid for. For example, property accidently destroyed was to be replaced, while property stolen was not only to be replaced by the thief, but compensation paid at four times the value of the stolen goods. If the thief couldn't pay, then he had to work for the person he stole from for free until he had cleared his debt. Honestly! why we give petty criminals extended holidays at the taxpayers expense while leaving their victims out of pocket, I'll never know.

So that's the Bibles view of justice, but what about mercy? Well, mercy is by no means the soppy, anything goes type of "she'll be right mate" routine that we get up to. It is undeserved kindness, goodness, favour and compassion, extended toward the needy, helpless and distressed. Mercy is particularly extended toward those who have no claim to such favourable treatment. Mercy, is undeserved consideration extended toward the miserable.

Jesus said, be "merciful, as your Father in Heaven is merciful"; "Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy". God is merciful, and for Him to deal with people like us He certainly needs to be. We continually ignore Him, either actively or passively, yet He refrains from giving us our just dues. He certainly hasn't ignored our rebellion, in fact it cost Jesus his life. God's heartfelt compassion toward the human race is anything but a free ride.

When we appreciate the costly mercy that has come our way, it's not a hard thing to give a person a second chance, to lighten a sentence, to send a young person home to his parents, rather than to jail. Sure, it will cost us, but then mercy always does.

So then, what does God require of us? "To love mercy and walk humbly with Him".