Monday, January 25, 2010

Justice and Mercy

For quite some time, I have been taken by Micah 6:8. I imagine quite a few people would cite it as their favorite verse:
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Justice and Mercy. I could spend hours thinking on the relationship between these two ideals. At once I think that justice is the opposite of mercy. If I am held accountable for my wrongs, how do I see mercy. But if I show mercy, justice is excused.

But then I imagine that if someone has done me wrong, and continues to beat me down, without justice, I will not know mercy.  Justice toward the oppressor may in fact be mercy toward the oppressed.

Only this week, I found these words from Micah echoed in the words of Jesus from Matthew 23:
But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.
I imagine that justice, mercy, and faithfulness relate to each other in an intricate way and that the context in which Jesus refers to them should shed more light on this relationship.  It is easy to dwell on justice at times, and mercy at others-- especially depending on the circumstances of our lives.  But perhaps standing alone, they cannot be understood at all.

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