What Does God Require of You? Part Four

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6: 8)

With justice and mercy so closely linked in the text some persons often confuse the two.

When a person commits a crime and thereafter expresses an apology or gives a self-excusing explanation it is often said the person should be forgiven even if a crime was involved.

There are conditions for forgiveness. Contrition, confession, repentance, and a request for forgiveness precedes forgiveness.  Some Christians become confused at this point and think that under these circumstances even the crime should be forgiven. There is a distinct difference in forgiveness of a wrong and acquittal of a crime.

Some persons not only want a criminal forgiven, but restored to their former position. Acquittal and restoration are admirable and should be encouraged. The restoration should be with God, not a formal position.

Moses was forgiven for striking the rock, but not allowed to enter the Promised Land.

David was forgiven, but not allowed to build the temple.

There are times when justice and mercy can be compatible.

When Fiorello La Guaridia was mayor of New York City he liked to keep in touch with all departments of government. He would even substitute for various heads. Once he sat in for the Night Court judge. It was a cold night and a trembling man was brought in charged with stealing a loaf of bread. He said he did it because his family was starving.

“I have to punish you nevertheless,” said La Guardia. “There is no exception to the law. The fine is $10.00.” As he said this he reached for his wallet, took out $10.00, put it in his famous hat and said, “Here is the $10.00 to pay the fine.”

“Furthermore,” he continued, “I’m going to fine everybody in this courtroom .50 cents for living in a city where a man has to steal bread in order to eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant.”  The total was $47.50.

In effect that is what our Heavenly Father did for us. We sin and He has found us guilty. In the person of His only begotten Son He paid the fine and remitted our sin. 

Because of that we are to live out Micah’s third virtue.

Poet Dante wrote, “In His will is our peace.”