Thinking about justice and mercy this morning, courtesy of a Skye Jethani daily newsletter series I’ve been reading lately.
We as humans want things to be fair. And that’s not a bad desire or heart leaning. Our spirits crave justice. We need things to be made right. Wrongdoing and injustice sparks deep, intuitive, carnal offense in us. And as it should be.
But really, we shouldn’t want things to be fair. Because then we’d each receive exactly what we deserve for all the wrongdoing we’ve caused. And as soon as vengeance or restitution or justice is aimed at us, we cringe a little bit.
And as it should be. Because justice is fair. And hard. And intimidating.
Enter into the scene what seems like it should be considered the opposite of justice: mercy. An intentional choice not to inflict justice. An absence of punishment or retribution.
I love that when God is described in the Bible, mentions of Him being “just” are so often paired with words like “merciful” and “compassionate.” The presence of justice alongside the willingness and inclination not to wield it against those who deserve it.
Our God is just. We need that. If He wasn’t, He wouldn’t be safe. He wouldn’t satiate our deep need for things to be made right that has been written into our bones. There wouldn’t be peace. There wouldn’t be resolution.
His justice sets the stage for His extravagant mercy. Only through the lens of His justice can we barely begin to comprehend the love and compassion it took not to wield it, fairly, against each of us.
Only God can be the perfect essence of two opposite qualities. We try and fail. I’m glad He can do it.