justice or mercy?
Open Your Bible
Isaiah 59:14-21, Micah 6:8, Luke 4:16-21, Isaiah 30:18
Text: Isaiah 59:14-21, Micah 6:8, Luke 4:16-21, Isaiah 30:18
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
– Isaiah 30:18
God’s mercy and grace are the great equalizers. His mercy steals a believer from the jaws of death (which she surely deserves), and sweeps her up into His unending grasp. She is then washed clean and made a daughter of God—such grace! All good gifts she receives are not of her own goodness but are from God above (see James 1:17).
Sometimes though, we can forget that. We can start to think that any good thing, be it beauty or position or money or extra time, is something we’re owed, something we’ve earned. We can start to live tightfisted, with insular lives, just living small and serving our own interests. We can start to live like we can meet God’s standards in our own power, with no need for Him.
We can twist the idea of justice—the restoration of all that is good and right, the recognition and treatment of all people as God’s creation—and make it about us, about “fairness” from our own limited perspective. We can forget that justice and mercy are not mutually exclusive, but rather both characteristics of the one true God.
I think when we first taste God’s mercy and grace, we fully know it’s unwarranted pardon and an extravagant gift. We relish the unexpected sweetness, and we want everyone else to experience it, too. We want to show the lovely gift we received from our Father who calls us the apple of His eye. But over time, just like a dessert you eat every day or a gift you see every day, the shininess wears off. We take it for granted. But God’s blessing is one gift we should never grow used to.
Tim Keller says, “Grace is key to it all…It is the generosity of God, the freeness of his salvation, that lays the foundation for the society of justice for all” (from Generous Justice).
Did you catch that? Grace lays the foundation for justice.
When we understand God’s insane mercy and grace, we will be compelled to live them out in our own lives, meeting the needs of others in love. The Holy Spirit will grow fruits in us that enable us to act justly. But when we forget the generosity of God and the freeness of salvation, we will begin serving ourselves instead of others.
Let’s not be women who forget. Let’s not take for granted God’s grace and mercy in our lives. Let’s remember that we were pardoned and accepted into the family of God. That goodness and sweetness is restoration, friends, and we should seek that restoration for others.