In the ministry, it’s tempting to blow a gasket when someone does something wrong, whether it’s a famous preacher in another state or one of your own fellow church members. It’s also sometimes tempting to just sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened. So, with that war of Justice vs. Mercy going on in our minds, which one usually wins?
Well, duh! Neither one! Instead, we ditch ’em both and harp about the situation to our friends, put a vague but melodramatic post on Facebook, and start every conversation with “I’m not trying to gossip or anything, but…” (You know what I’m talking about.) We talk about it continually, but never quite make a decision on how to handle it or think about it.
It’s been said that Justice and Mercy are opposites, that war within me when I’m dealing with people. Justice keeps me in the right, but can push others away from me and my testimony for Jesus Christ. Mercy endears the hearts of people to me, but it does not help them recognize their sin and confess it before God. The only way I will ever be able to discern when to do justly and when to love mercy is to stay in a right relationship with Christ – and suddenly, it isn’t a decision anymore. It’s no longer an either/or choice, because in walking humbly with my God, I begin to see as He sees.
Christ was neither completely just nor completely merciful to me. Complete justice would’ve landed me in Hell for eternity. Complete mercy would’ve erased any guilt or punishment for my sin without any redemption. Justice and mercy together, though, caused me to acknowledge my guilt and to be bought back to Himself.
When you’re dealing with people, realize that sin is a condition of the flesh, a very real pitfall for every human being alive. The best Christians are capable of sinning. Nobody’s immune. In my own life, in the lives of people I know, and people I don’t know, I must learn to deal with the sin but love the sinner. I am not a failure in God’s eyes because I have sinned; He must chasten me in His justice, and I’ll have to deal with the punishment, but I know that in spite of it, His mercy still surrounds me and I am loved. I am His child. I am His creation. His desire for me is simply that I walk with Him.
Do justly, love mercy, and (in order to balance them as Jesus does), walk humbly with thy God.