Summary: Give mercy and live!
It’s Either Mercy or Justice
"Whoever takes the life of any human being shall be put to death. A life for a life! Anyone who inflicts an injury on his neighbor shall receive the same in return. Limb for limb, eye for eye, tooth for tooth! The same injury that a man gives another shall be inflicted on him in return." Lev 24:17f
Justice was the law of God in the Old Testament. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We’re all very familiar with that. If I hurt or wronged somebody, the person had a right to a judgment and payback from me. It was all very fair.
The greatest atrocity that ever occurred was not Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot murdering millions of people. The greatest atrocity was our ancestors murdering the Son of God some 2,000 years ago. Jesus came and taught and blessed and healed and delivered and gave of Himself totally to us. What did it get Him - death! He was butchered and spit upon and nailed to a tree like a dog. What an atrocity!
The innocent, sinless one was executed. The innocent one paid the debt of the guilty. It was your debt and mine that He paid. It was our sin, yours and mine that required his execution. We are responsible for the death of God’s Son.
We are responsible for the death of God’s Son!
Our sins required our death. So we come to Jesus saying, Lord I don’t want to die. I don’t want justice; I don’t want an eye for an eye. I want to live. And Jesus in His great mercy says, my son come up into my mercy and grace, I took your place, your debt is paid. We received mercy instead of justice. We deserved justice (death for death) but received instead mercy. Unmerited, free forgiveness. Mercy is a higher and better place where it triumphs over justice. (Ja 2:13)
However, here’s the rub. We can’t be in two places at once. We are either living in the place of mercy or we are living in the place of justice. Mercy and justice do not co-exist! We all know the Our Father where we say, forgive us our debts AS we forgive our debtors. That tells me I can’t have it both ways. If I want justice because someone hurt me, I cannot ask for mercy for myself. What goes around comes around. I reap what I sow. If I sow mercy, I’ll get mercy. If I sow justice, I’ll get justice. Which means I’ll get everything I deserve. I’ll pay for every sin and wrongdoing I commit. It’s either mercy without justice or it’s justice without mercy. Mercy and justice do not co-exist!
Mercy and justice do not co-exist!
Satan is the accuser of the brothers (Rev 12:10). He hangs out in the justice realm. He is the master prosecutor, the master legalist. His place of business is the justice realm. He has the legal right to demand an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth for you. He’ll make sure you receive your justice, your punishment for sin and wrongdoing. Satan can’t operate in the mercy realm. There’s nothing to accuse. There is only grace, peace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ! There are no accusations, no judgments, just mercy.
When we hold anger, bitterness, judgments and unforgiveness towards others, we are demanding justice for them. This means that I step down from the mercy realm into the justice realm and say to the devil, here’s the keys to my house. Come on in and have at me and my family. St. Paul warns us that unresolved anger can give the devil a "stronghold" (Eph 4: 26-27). We give Satan power in our lives when we choose justice for others instead of giving them mercy. Then we wonder why so many things go wrong for ourselves and our families.