Inspirational Wednesday: Justice & Mercy: Finding the Balance

Justice and Mercy: Finding the Balance

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8He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?(B) (Micah 6:8)

Note: Please search the scripture for yourself and please don’t take my word for it. If you allow people to spoon feed you, you just might be fed poison one day. It’s always good to test everything.

When we read the Bible in context by Exegesis we see that God is both just AND merciful. Unfortunately in most circles people dote on one extreme. This gives the appearance that God is one dimensional. The truth is that God (Jesus Christ) is perfect and balanced.  He is fully just and fully merciful. The two can walk hand in hand. This is not a contradiction.

“Exegesis is the exposition or explanation of a text based on a careful, objective analysis. The word exegesis literally means “to lead out of.” That means that the interpreter is led to his conclusions by following the text.

The opposite approach to Scripture is eisegesis, which is the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading. The word eisegesis literally means “to lead into,” which means the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever he wants.”

(Quote from: http://lightingtheway.blogspot.com/2008/05/what-is-exegesis-vs-eisegesis.html)

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Often people choose to avoid the paradoxes in scripture. For instance, how can Jesus be FULLY GOD and also FULLY MAN? It doesn’t make sense to our finite mind. How can we be saved by Grace through faith and not works yet our faith is dead without works? When we choose to embrace these truths in faith & read the Bible in context, we find balance. Balance is healthy.  It IS true we are saved by faith and not works. But TRUE Faith (someone who has really repented) will show good fruit. When we truly make Christ our Lord we WANT to obey HIM & it will be apparent in our lives that we are trying to Live for him (though we will never be perfect on this earth). You see, these two beliefs that seem to contradict each other really work together real well. For faith without works is an empty faith, but we can’t save ourselves by good works. It is Christ’ blood that redeems us.

Back to balance…please don’t get me wrong. I am NOT talking about Yin & Yang. I am NOT saying God is good and evil. Father God is PURE and HOLY. He is PERFECT. He is TRUE Balance in what is right. Father God is a righteous judge and HE gives mercy freely. How do these two aspects  of God work together? And how can we be balanced in these areas? Let’s look at what scripture says about both. 🙂

Let’s start with the hardest: Justice (Judgement)

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These are all from the amplified…the closest I’ve found to the KJV that is easy to understand.

Passage Proverbs 21:3:
3To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

Psalm 89:14

14Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and loving-kindness and truth go before Your face.

Passage Proverbs 4:18:
18But the path of the [uncompromisingly] just and righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines more and more (brighter and clearer) until [it reaches its full strength and glory in] the perfect day [to be prepared].(A)

Revelation 20:11-12

11Then I saw a great white throne and the One Who was seated upon it, from Whose presence and from the sight of Whose face earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.

    12I [also] saw the dead, great and small; they stood before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is [the Book] of Life. And the dead were judged (sentenced) by what they had done [[b]their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors] in accordance with what was recorded in the books.

Let’s face it. We don’t like to be judged. But I dare say that most of us have our own sense of justice. We don’t like it when murderers walk away scotch free. We want the child molesters to receive just punishment.  We are very good at judging everyone around us. That jerk in traffic who cut us off…..that wasn’t right. I can’t believe that person cheated on her husband….and so on and so on.  But when it comes to ourselves we usually have lots of mercy. Well, I didn’t mean to do it or you don’t know what’s been going on in my life. I was super stressed when I ran that red light. I cheated because he didn’t show me love….etc etc.

We don’t want to accept the responsibility of our own sin and why would we? It’s painful. But if we are honest I’m sure NONE of us would want to live in a world without justice. When someone does us wrong we want them to PAY but we don’t want to have to pay.  The TRUTH is that we ALL sin. No one is perfect. We were born with sin and it all goes back to Adam & Eve. Sin is in our bloodline.  Praise God that HE is JUST and perfect. Praise God that Christ became the pure sacrifice for our sins so we don’t have to face God’s wrath (as long as we trust in HIM).

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The issue comes about with the way humans view sin. We have limits. Our brains are finite. God is infinite. He is the creator and he knows all things. It stands to reason that the Creator is the one who makes the rules….not the created. Humans measure sin differently than God. We say being angry with someone in traffic is not the same as murder. Makes sense…it seems. God however says hating our brother is the same as murder. God judges the intentions of our hearts. He knows that the sin of murder starts as a seed of hatred. The sin of adultery starts as a seed of lust…etc etc…  According to God’s rules if we break one law we are guilty of breaking them all. So every one of us have broken his law and in His justice he must dole out punishment. This is why we need a savior….this is why we need forgiveness.

I have seen several extremes in the church and in times past I have been apart of them both. In those times I was most miserable and the furthest from God. Judgement without mercy is scary. Some people say God only showed wrath in the old covenant. Their they go again….trying to make God one-sided. The truth is that God showed tons of mercy in the old testament as well as the new. Just look at the people God chose to speak for him…….Moses a murderer….Jacob the deceiver…..David the adulterer. They were sinners just as we are. The book of Hebrews makes it clear that their faith made them righteous before God. Yes, HE forgave sin even back then. God’s people looked forward in faith that God would send the messiah to save them.

Now let’s look at MERCY. We all love this one 🙂

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Passage Psalm 25:10:
10All the paths of the Lord are mercy and steadfast love, even truth and faithfulness are they for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.

Passage Psalm 32:10:
10Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on the Lord shall be compassed about with mercy and with loving-kindness.

Ephesians 2:4-10

4But God–so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,

    5Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved ([a]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).

6And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us [b]joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

7He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.

8For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved ([c]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

9Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

10For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), [d]recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

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Mercy is beautiful. The King of the Universe loves us so much he gave his life for us. It’s like when a child disobeys their parent. We discipline that child so they will learn  & grow up to be a good person. When our child asks for forgiveness we are more than willing to accept it. God will never turn away a repentant heart. HE loves it when his creation accepts HIS forgiveness. Christ would rather no one go to Hell but HE is also just. If God was not just he would be evil. None of us want to serve an evil god (I hope you don’t).

We see from the verses above that we must choose God’s mercy by trusting in Him. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He does not force HIS love on anyone. We must accept it and walk in it by following Christ. Now some people claim that Jesus only preached mercy. This is not true. Jesus is God and HE is just. Christ showed his justice when he purged the temple & drove out the money changers. Jesus showed his justice when he told the woman caught in adultery to ‘Go and SIN NO MORE”.  Christ called the religious leaders a brood of vipers because of their hypocrisy & legalism. We see in the book of Acts that Ananias and Sapphira, both Christians, fell dead after they lied to the apostles about their offering. Jesus tells us in John that if we truly LOVE him we will OBEY his commands.

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So we know God uses both justice and Mercy. We now know that they work good together. But how do we keep the balance in our own lives? We don’t want to harshly judge everyone but we also don’t want to ignore sin……after all, true love is tough love. Also, we deal with our imperfection. How can we judge someone else when we ourselves are sinners?

When talking about Judgement we often hear these verses quoted even by those who rarely pick up their Bibles:

Matthew 7:1-5

1DO NOT judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.

    2For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.

    3Why do you [a]stare from without at the [b]very small particle that is in your brother’s eye but do not become aware of and consider the beam [c]of timber that is in your own eye?

    4Or how can you say to your brother, Let me get the tiny particle out of your eye, when there is the beam [d]of timber in your own eye?

    5You hypocrite, first get the beam of timber out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the tiny particle out of your brother’s eye.

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But we hardly ever hear these verses. It all comes back to picking and choosing (Eisegesis):

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

   9I wrote you in my [previous] letter not to associate [closely and habitually] with unchaste (impure) people–

    10Not [meaning of course that you must] altogether shun the immoral people of this world, or the greedy graspers and cheats and thieves or idolaters, since otherwise you would need to get out of the world and human society altogether!

    11But now I write to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of [Christian] brother if he is known to be guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater [whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God], or is a person with a foul tongue [railing, abusing, reviling, slandering], or is a drunkard or a swindler or a robber. [No] you must not so much as eat with such a person.

    12What [business] of mine is it and what right have I to judge outsiders? Is it not those inside [the church] upon whom you are to pass disciplinary judgment [passing censuring sentence on them as the facts require]?

    13God alone sits in judgment on those who are outside. Drive out that wicked one from among you [expel him from your church].

SAY WHAT? Which is it? Here’s another paradox. We can not rightly judge others. We do not see peoples’ hearts like God sees. If we judge based on our own opinions we will judge wrong. BUT God’s word is truth and full of HIS justice. We can point others to God’s word because HIS judgements are always right. So it is not us that judges but the Word of God that judges. The Bible makes it clear we are not to judge unbelievers (they are already judged by their own unbelief). We should point them to God’s word and pray for them in love. But OTHER Believers are a different story. If we see our brother/sister in sin we need to correct them in love. Here’s where it gets tricky.

We correct, rebuke, chastise, and exhort another believer because we love them and we don’t want them to suffer the consequences of sin. We are NOT to rebuke someone to be hateful or to puff ourselves up like WE are the spiritual elite. We are ALL in the same boat. God knows your motives so tread carefully. God chastises HIS children.

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Galatians 6:1-5

1BRETHREN, IF any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.

    2Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and [a]troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete [b]what is lacking [in your obedience to it].

    3For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another’s load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself.

    4But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [[c]in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor.

    5For every person will have to bear ([d]be equal to understanding and calmly receive) his own [[e]little] load [f][of oppressive faults].

So it boils down to this. We are supposed to correct out of love….even if we are to expel someone from the church the Bible is clear we should accept them back with loving arms if they repent. It’s like the story of the prodigal son. Sometimes we just have to let people go and pray they will come back. We must be very careful though if we do judge because we are being  judged as well. We need to pray and seek God’s wisdom in all matters. We must point people to God’s word, not our own opinions.

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John 3:16-19

16For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

    17For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.

    18He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation–he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ’s name.]

    19The [basis of the] judgment (indictment, the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence) lies in this: the Light has come into the world, and people have loved the darkness rather than and more than the Light, for their works (deeds) were evil.(C)

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Remember we ALL mess up. How can we cast stones in hatred when we deserve the same punishment? Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery apply to us as well “Go and sin no more”.

Titus 3:3-7

3For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

   4But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

   5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

   6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

   7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

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I pray you will stay balanced in your faith and that you will see things in context. I pray your sense of justice will be tempered by mercy and grace. Have a happy Inspirational Wednesday!

God bless and remember The High King Lives!

~Amber Dover

Ps: Have you ever been spiritually abused by an extreme person? I know how that feels. You need healing. Here’s a link to a good site that deals with spiritual abuse. I hope it helps 🙂

Breaking Free:What I’ve Learned About Spiritual Abuse

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