When Mercy and Justice Met
Mercy came to us in mid-April of this year. Mercy, that is, in the form of an undersized, nine month old German shepherd rescue pup. She came to us out of the blue from an unexpected source. Perhaps that's how mercy comes to us all.
It's taken this long to write of her mostly because of a protracted season of busyness. Truth be told, though, it's been hard to focus on Mercy when Justice was not far behind.
Both dogs were born in my mind not terribly long after Nikko died (see "Good Dog"). For some time I didn't think I would ever want another dog, but at our youngest daughter's urging, I thought again. Justice and Mercy! Not one dog but two! Therapy dogs! Two furry friends, useful beyond the scope of my own little world, to once again greet us at the door with a wag and wiggle! So with this, my search for Justice and Mercy ensued.
Unlike his older sister, Justice was planned - premeditated - as justice often is. Coming from a breeder, we knew when he would arrive. We planned for it. Yet, it was Mercy who prepared the way. They have been comrades since that first day - most certainly incomplete without the other. And though they are both still pups, I have already fast forwarded to the day when one will need to go on without the other. I cannot fathom it.
In a similar way, the ideals of justice and mercy are inseparable sides of the same coin. Heads or tails. Which do you choose? Would you want justice without mercy or the other way around? Who among us could withstand the scrutiny that true justice demands? I often long for it - that is until I am reminded that justice, in its perfect state, must be meted out to me as well. And what of mercy with no justice? It is unnecessary, of course! Why, the very thought of mercy implies that justice is due - but mercy, instead, given. Even so, justice must be satisfied -- but how?
As Mercy came to us before Justice, I am eternally grateful that God extended me his mercy before exacting his justice. Still - justice was required, and my debt was surely paid. But, it was Christ alone who could and did pay the price I owed. Did I suggest above that justice is planned but mercy not? Think again, my friend. Though Mercy came to us suddenly and without much forewarning, it would appear her little path had been planned all along. Rescued twice, nearly starved, street wise and quick, I believe it was God, in his providential care, who set Mercy aside for us. It was he who guarded her and kept her alive so she could come to minister to us. To others. So it is with mercy and justice. Before the foundation of the world, God planned that justice would be satisfied through Jesus, his only begotten Son, and that through Christ's finished work on the cross, I, and others, would meet God's mercy before his justice.
Mercy prepared the way that we might stand forgiven - before the holiness and justice of God.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are this workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10