Divine Love: where mercy meets justice

Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2016.

The human heart longs to right injustices of all kinds. It would seem that justice and mercy are often at odds, but the Bible reveals that they have their source in God and work together for good. Justice comes from Principle and Truth, which are synonyms for God, while mercy originates from God as Love, another synonym for God. The Bible speaks of justice and love, which include God’s abundant mercy, laying the foundation for God’s law of good: “Equity and justice are the foundation of your throne. Loyal love and faithfulness characterize your rule” (Psalms 89:14, New English Translation).

This points to the kingdom of God that Christ Jesus said is “at hand” and “within you” (Matthew 4:17 and Luke 17:21, respectively). With his deep spiritual understanding of this kingdom, Jesus expressed a justice that didn’t sanction any act underived from God. And he expressed mercy in compassionately lifting individual lives above wrongdoing to a higher understanding of God’s unchangeable love. He healed them.

Divine justice, as a vital and irresistible force for good, rebukes and corrects wrongdoing where needed, while mercy is shown in the freedom this brings—lifting individuals out of wrongdoing and the suffering it brings. And these qualities are reflected by each one of us, the image of God. This means we naturally know the rightness of good. It gives us the ability to see and correct wrongdoing while expressing God’s love with its infinite capacity of mercy.

Praying to understand God’s kingdom can help bring a balance to human affairs. True justice is merciful. As it uncovers and denounces evil, and shows that evil has no power to govern man as God’s creation, it turns the wrongdoer to Love’s mercy. Mercy that is just shines the light on how to do right by revealing the good and pure spiritual identity we all have. These qualities cooperate to correct wrongdoing and its effects. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love—the kingdom of heaven—reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 248).

Years ago, a friend wanted to take a “break” from our friendship. It turned into months without speaking, which felt very unjust. One day, it dawned on me to forgive my friend. As I prayed, I saw that my friend owed me nothing, because divine Love, and not a person, was the source of all good for both of us. Only Love’s law was governing us. I saw how just and merciful was God’s law, the understanding of which destroyed my unjust resentment toward my friend and mercifully freed me from its ensuing distress. This enabled me to love my friend compassionately. Soon after that, my friend apologized, and with an open heart I easily accepted the apology.

Where redress is needed, regardless of how major or minor it may seem, we can pray to see justice and mercy working together to bring Love’s rendering of what is due—regeneration, reconciliation, and the righting of wrongs.

Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2016.

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