March 2 Mercy and Justice

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.—Matt. 5:7

The relationship of mercy and justice is a confusing one because on the surface they seem the exact opposite. Justice gives exactly what is deserved; mercy gives less punishment and more help than is deserved. So the great question is: How can God be both just and merciful at the same time? The truth is God does not show mercy without punishing sin. For Him to offer mercy without punishment would negate His justice.

Mercy that ignores sin is false mercy and is all too common today. Some think it is unloving and unkind to hold people responsible for their sins. That is what is known as cheap grace—which is neither merciful nor just, nor does it offer punishment or pardon for sin. Because it overlooks sin, it leaves sin untouched and unforgiven. The one who relies on this sort of mercy is left in his sin.

The good news of the gospel, however, is that Christ paid the penalty for all sins so that God might be merciful to all sinners. On the cross Jesus satisfied God’s justice. And when a person trusts in His sacrifice, God opens the floodgates of His mercy. God did not gloss over sin and compromise justice. The good news is that in the shedding of Christ’s blood, He satisfied His justice, forgave sin, fulfilled righteousness, and made His mercy available. There is never an excuse for sin, but there is always a remedy.

ASK YOURSELF

What is true of God’s mercy should be true of ours. Rather than simply letting people get away with abuse, mistreatment, or destructive habits, we must realize that for mercy to truly be merciful, it must lead others toward health and holiness. Mercy is tougher than we think. How then might it look in practice?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 70). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

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