Justice or Mercy?

I heard about an 80-year-old woman who was arrested for shoplifting.  When she went before the judge in Cincinnati he asked her, “What did you steal?”

She replied “A  can of peaches.”

The judge asked her why she had stolen the can of peaches and she replied that she was hungry.  The judge then asked her how many peaches were in the can.

She replied,  “Six.”

The judge said, “Then I will give you six days in jail.”  Before the judge could actually pronounce the punishment, the woman’s husband spoke up and asked the judge if he could say something.

The judge said, “What is it?”

The husband said, “She also stole a can of peas.”

It’s so true that whenever others are found guilty, we want to make sure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  I sometimes ask people the question, “Do you want a judge (or a police officer) who shows mercy or one who administers justice?”  The answer I get is almost always the same — if we are standing before the judge or pulled over by the police officer, we want mercy; if others are standing there, we want justice.

The interesting thing about God is that He is perfect in His justice while at the same time full of mercy.  How can He be both?  When we are guilty of sin, He finds us guilty to the full extent of the law.  The penalty for our sin is death — spiritual death, separation from God (Romans 6:23).  But, in His mercy, God has found a way to pay the price Himself.

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Praise God for being the just and holy God that He is, but praise Him as well for being full of grace and mercy.


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