And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
There are several key words in the biblical lexicon that are similar, but different. And their difference makes all the difference! Justice means getting what we deserve. Mercy means not getting what we deserve. And grace means getting what we don’t deserve. All have their importance, and each has its place in our life.
Justice we leave to God, of course (Hebrews 10:30). Grace we can generously dispense toward others. But mercy? That’s a harder one. Remember: mercy means not giving someone what they deserve. We have received mercy from God in that He spared us from the punishment for our sins and punished His Son instead. So what do we do when someone offends us and we feel they deserve our reproach? We should do what God has done for us—show mercy. Instead of dispensing judgment or vengeance, we show love, forgiveness, and understanding. In short, we show mercy. Why? Because God has shown mercy toward us.
The next time you are impulsively or deliberately inclined to judge or retaliate, remember to show mercy. Give to others what God has given you.
‘Tis God that justifies their souls, and mercy like a mighty stream, o’er all their sins divinely rolls.