JUSTICE AND MERCY (Part one)

To God be all the honour and the glory and for all the good things He has done for me. My brothers and sisters look where you were brought Ab2from and where you are today. Our God is great, Loving and merciful. Hallelujah I want to look at the Justice of Gog and where Mercy plays a role.

People frequently express outrage at judges who are ‘soft on crime’. They come under attack for being too lenient and failing to impose the appropriate penalty for the offence committed. We have seen the outrage here in the United States more than any other place. There are many reasons why the people speak out, and they cannot be faulted.

When I was working in the Courts as Bailiff, I noticed that the legal profession did not respect judges who were regarded as too lenient. We expect judges to execute justice within the law. We do not expect them simply to be merciful.

On the other hand, we do expect mercy in our personal relationships. A loving parent will be merciful to their child. We expect friends to be merciful to one another. Justice and mercy do not normally go together. We tend to see them as alternatives. We expect either justice or mercy, but not both at the same time.

Yet God is both a God who judges with justice, and also a God of mercy. How can he combine these two apparently contradictory characteristics? The answer is that the sacrifice of Jesus has made it possible for God to combine both justice and mercy.

 I remembered many years ago I was taken to court on a traffic offence before the Magistrate I used to hang out with while I was a Bailiff. I was fine the maximum and ordered to pay “now”. I didn’t have the money but my lodge sister paid the fine and later same day the Magistrate joined me at our usual “liming” venue. He said to me that he couldn’t let me off the “hook” because of our association. But that said day he paid the entire bill for our evening”lime” and said that he hoped I learnt the lesson. In one place I received justice and same day granted mercy. Hallelujah. God faces.

He was the Magistrate so he had to be just; he couldn’t simply let the me off. On the other hand, he wanted to be merciful, because he loved me as his friend. So he fined me the correct penalty for the offence. That was justice. Then he came down from his position as Magistrate and paid for the amount of the fine in a bill. He took out the money, saying that he would pay the bill. That was an act of mercy, love and sacrifice.

In his justice, God judges us because we are guilty. Then in his mercy and love he comes down in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, and pays the penalty for us. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God is both just and merciful. The illustration is not an exact one for three reasons. First, our plight is worse. The penalty we are facing is not just a fine but death. Second, the relationship is closer. This is not just two friends, it is our Father in heaven who loves us more than any earthly parent loves their own child. Third, the cost is greater. It cost God far more than money – he came himself, in the person of Jesus, and paid the penalty of sin.

In our passage for today, we see an example of how these themes of justice and mercy are weaved throughout the Bible.
1. Rely on the justice of God
Let us read our scripture for this morning Psalm 9:13-20

13 Have mercy upon me, O Lord; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:14 That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.15 The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
16 The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
19 Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.
20 Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.
David knows that God is a God of justice. ‘The Lord is known by his justice’ (verse 16). He also cries out for mercy. ‘Have mercy… that I may shew firth all thy praise’ (verses 13–14).

In this psalm, the desire for justice and the desire for mercy come together. David prays that God will have mercy on him by executing judgment on his enemies: ‘Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.’ (verse 19).

We sometimes think of justice in a negative way, as primarily about punishment. But justice is also profoundly positive. In Hebrew the word for justice (mishpat) also carries the sense of putting things right. It is because of God’s justice that the psalmist can be confident that ‘the needy will not always be forgotten, the expectation of the poor shall not perish’ (verse 18).

Thank you, Lord, that you are a God of justice. Thank you that one day there will be justice for the people of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, America and every other place where we see injustice in our world today. Thank you that one day there will be justice for the poor and the oppressed.

Your servant and brother,
+ Sir Godfrey Gregg
Archbishop and Presiding Prelate
Administrator and Apostolic Head

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Author: Godfrey Gregg