Justice and mercy can seem like opposing ideas. Justice requires the recompense for wrongs done, the wrongdoer to “pay the price” or make restitution in some way. It is most often associated with punishment for a crime done. It is meted out, or done to, the offender.
Mercy on the other hand, is almost the antithesis of justice. It is the withholding of the deserved punishment for a crime or offense. Mercy is almost the removal of the need for justice, that there no need to address the wrong that has been committed.
Paradoxically, we all want mercy for ourselves and to see justice in the world. But what if each of those actually starts with us? What if justice begins well before the criminal system? What if mercy is more than just withholding punishment? By understanding those ideas from God’s view, we begin to see that justice has failed if it relies on the courts, and mercy is thin if it requires a wrong to be exercised.
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