An awareness of good and evil resides in us all; with that knowledge comes a tendency toward judgmental attitudes. God calls us to three godly principles: justice, mercy and humility. Personally, justice dominates; mercy is lacking, while true humility is a work in progress.
I was chatting with a preschool teacher a little while ago. She was welcoming new students into her class. They are rapidly learning the behavioural expectations of their new environment. The older students are quick to inform her when one of her new charges is going astray.
We chuckled at how easy it is to point out someone else’s faults, even though it may be the only moment in the entire day when we ourselves are obeying. It isn’t just children that fall into this trap!
“He has shown 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.”
He Has Shown You
What does justice look like where the guilty face the consequences of their actions, while victims are restored their rights and dignity?
God has made the distinction between right and wrong clear in His word and even within our hearts. Before we allow intellectual reasoning unruly access, God’s requirements are obvious, even as these little preschoolers demonstrate.
Justice is an action! It is something one pursues and does!
“But you must return to your God;
maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.”
I immediately want justice when it is me that has faced offense or some kind of violation, even is minor. Yet, when I have crossed the boundaries of honour into the quick sand of indifferent regard, I’m not so fast to press for that same justice.
The only way justice truly works is when it is mixed with a healthy dose of mercy. The two form the right and left hand of godliness.
“This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice;
show mercy and compassion to one another.”
“Righteousness and justice
are the foundation of your throne.”
That is a verse I have quoted many times; perhaps I should say, misquoted in part! Usually this is as far as I would go! I honestly did not know the rest of the verse by memory. How about you?
“…mercy and loving-kindness and truth go before You.”
Often when God talks about justice, He immediately adds mercy! I must remember that mercy is first a matter of the heart, “love mercy.”
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!”
I may seem innocent and humble in my own eyes, at least until the Holy Spirit speaks!
In reality my heart has a strong bent toward pride — so do we all!
The more Holy Spirit uncovers the secret thoughts and condition of my heart, the more disgusting I find it is.
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked: who can know it?
“ Jeremiah 17:9
Who truly “knows” my heart? The answer is, God does. Yet, He is willing to look inside and show me the contaminated contents as well.
If my heart lies, I will know it; if my heart accuses, I will know that too; but if my heart is deceived, I will not know it unless God reveals it. It is through humility that lies, accusations and even deceptions are revealed for what they truly are.
We can sometimes misinterpret humility as weakness; it is in fact stronger than justice and mercy combined.
It is humility that keeps my proud nose pointed in the right direction recognizing my own need for transformation, rather than blindly upward. One of the toughest places to demonstrate true humility is in the face of injustice, where the cup of love of mercy appears empty.
Requirements of Humility, Mercy, and Justice
When I reverse the order and put humility first, when I recognize my security in the Father and Christ in me, humility begins to flow rather naturally. Humility, mercy, and justice are more than requirements, they are release agents of God’s goodness.
Arrogance has not room in the Presence of God – none! Out of the relationship of love and mercy, love and mercy find a free-flowing channel to influence others. This sweet delicate flow makes wrong things right! Justice begins to naturally invade attitudes and circumstances.
No matter which way you say it, justice, mercy and humility form a torpedo sandwich catapulting a powerful momentum of strength and dignity into our lives and the lives of those around us.
A requirement is something that is most needed and wanted; it is a necessary condition. God who made us in His own image, says justice, mercy and humility are necessary ingredients for us to re-present Him to our wounded world.
Wanted? Yes, Lord!
May my life be one that actively pursues justice, generously loves, and consistently extends mercy, and gently walks in humility, that I might pattern Christ more fully.