Saturday, January 22, 2005

In Praise of Mercy AND Justice

I will sing of mercy and justice;
  To You, O LORD, I will sings praises.
(Psalm 101:1 NKJV)
The KJV has “I will sing of mercy and judgment.”

We don’t often like to think of mercy and judgment together. We tend to think of them as violently opposed to one another. We make it an either/or proposition: Either mercy, or justice, not both. But David sings of both mercy and justice, for they both belong to God, and they are both good, worthy of all our praise.

We can easily understand how the mercy of God is good, especially when we recognize how much we are in need of God’s mercy. But God’s justice is equally good—and equally necessary. We think that God’s justice is against us, but it is really intended for us.

You see, it is the judgment of God that comes and sets everything right, that restores what has been stolen, mends what has been broken, heals what has been stricken. God has a plan of blessing and abundance for the earth, and it is His judgment that works to bring everything into line with that plan. If His justice fails, then His good plan fails as well.

Mercy and justice must go together. Without justice, mercy is meaningless, for at the end of the day, everything remains a botch-up, a mess, a curse and not a blessing. On the other hand, without mercy, justice is a hollow victory, for God will have no one left to enjoy it with Him, and His blessing goes unfulfilled.

But, praise to God, He found a way to fulfill both mercy and justice. God had mercy on us in the Lord Jesus Christ, who came and took the severe judgment of God upon Himself. Jesus was judged instead of you and I, and when we receive Him, the mercy of God judges us as having been brought into line with His plan of blessing. And so His plan is fulfilled and His victory is sweet.

Praise God for both His mercy and His Justice. For His justice comes to set things right, and His mercy comes to set us on the right side of His judgment.