“What does the Lord require of us? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8). Here justice, mercy and humility are all introduced as the Lord’s requirement. Picking and choosing our preference is not presented as an option.
We’ve all seen it. Two believers squaring off to contend for their position or politics. The forum might be Twitter, a small group, a coffee shop or maybe a Sunday meeting. But the atmosphere remains the same. Language is charged, listening is poor and learning is, well,…learning is running late and stopped by the pub for a brew. Yep, just a couple of Jesus-followers setting aside a whole lotta Scripture for the privilege of owning each other in a conversation.
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking of someone you know. Maybe they would read it and think of you.
I can relate. I find it difficult blending justice and mercy. It’s much easier for me to go hard at one or the other. This is a justice issue; this is a mercy moment. In my quest for simplicity and clarity, I reach for Solomon’s sword to divide the baby, so I can deal with them separately. But the funny thing about justice and mercy is, they go together. And what God has joined together, let no man separate.
What The Lord Requires
“What does the Lord require of us? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8). Here justice, mercy and humility are all introduced as the Lord’s requirement. Picking and choosing our preference is not presented as an option. We are not afforded the luxury of saying, “Mercy seems nice, but I’m more of a justice-guy.” Likewise, our vision of humility must have teeth; it must be willing to boldly blow the whistle and call evil to account.
Why go through the mental gymnastics of stretching to apply all three? Simple. It’s what the Lord requires of us.
If you’re anything like me, you were born with the justice-chip already installed. Batman and Superman were my first TV shows. (Truth, justice and the American way! Amen, preach it superman!) I went to college for Criminology and never, ever changed my major. Not once. From there I was off to the Police Academy where, upon graduation, I accepted a role to lead a private security department in a high-end retail store. Let justice roll down!
Justice I knew. Mercy? Not so much.
Where Justice and Mercy Kiss
In the years to follow, here’s what I learned. Mercy addresses how God relates to us as “sinners.” It describes his disposition of kindness, patience, and forgiveness toward us even when we don’t deserve it. God’s mercy is eloquently illustrated when the Psalmist says, ”He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” (Ps. 103: 10)
Mercy is God’s perfect love extended into the lives of imperfect humans. God’s mercy covers us, and then in turn, we cover others with mercy. Mercy endures, it is long-suffering, it pardons rather than punishes. Mercy, justice, and humility walk hand-in-hand. When justice is what we deserve, mercy pardons. And the whole enterprise is powered by humility.
From where do we draw such an audacious idea of a person fully integrating justice and mercy?