Healthy Relationships: Justice vs. Mercy (Part 4 of 4)

Greetings and welcome to my post. For this month, I want to focus on this intentional question: Do you want to pursue justice in solving problems or do you want to pursue mercy and grace. When problems come up in a relationship, is it your strategy and focus to try to find ways to seek justice and truth of how to solve relationship problems or is it your intention to try to focus on providing grace and mercy to the person and problem?

There is a story in the Bible in which a women breaks the law and the people who are the law keepers and find in keeping the law they can judge others, catch a women breaking the law and demands she be stoned to death. But then the words come out that they don’t want to hear: Who among you also does not break the law can cast the first stone. The story goes on where one by one they drop the stones and walk away from this women knowing their way of justice to fix the law breaker is to stone her cannot be applied because they realized we all break the law and we all deserve punishment.

You see, that is what mercy says and does. Mercy says I would never hurt you, spill the milk, cheat on you, steal from you, not embarrass you in from of my family, or at the very least, not do the bad that you do. Justice says I am good, you are bad, I am above your bad and your mistake or actions as I would never do that to you as I am better than you. Justice places you in a one up one down position in which you look with disgust or disapproval at the person who hurt you concluding this person needs to be punished.
This often happens in relationships when one person does something either minor or major and the other person is shocked or is disapproved of what that person has done as they think they would ever or could never do that! They may say to themselves, I would never get into a car accident or get a speeding ticket or forget to pay a bill. So justice looks at this person with thoughts of punishment. You broke it, you fix it as it is your fault.

But mercy says “Ouch that hurts regarding the car being broken or a bill was not paid. How did this happen? How are we going to heal this broken action in our relationship?” Mercy says we have a problem, let’s talk about this so we can figure out what damage has happened and let’s find ways to never ever allow this to happen again. Mercy says, well, welcome to the club of making mistakes, doing things wrong to each other, and let’s work together to make sure we don’t do this again.” Mercy says, you are going to hurt me now, you are going to hurt me again, you are going to hurt me in the future and I had better get my head around this reality rather than judging you and punishing you by concluding I would never do that because I am perfect, you are not perfect, and you need to learn your lesson and become perfect.

Mercy says, welcome to the club of brokenness, the club of imperfection, the club of mistakes, the club of doing wrong. Mercy says we are all people who make mistakes and I choose to respond to your mistakes with kindness and compassion rather than with truth and punishment. Mercy says, can’t we create a safe and trusting relationship in which when I hurt you and when you hurt me, we can talk about it in the moment and learn to say I am sorry I hurt you, can you forgive me, and let’s say to each other with empathy and compassion, I did not mean to hurt you but just being human means that I have hurt you so can you forgive me and show mercy to me?

To be human means you will error, make mistakes, not show up on time, forget my birthday, get a speeding ticket, embarrass me sometimes, not compliment me when I needed it, burn the toast, devote more time to watching ESPN or Facebook than giving time to me, and in general, do dumb things to me or to our relationship that I would never do nor never would have anticipated you could do.
But out of mercy, I will accept you, I will find ways to understand and show kindness to all of you, your strengths and weakness, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, and realize that who among us has not made a mistake and done something wrong as I know when I do something wrong, I too want mercy shown to me as well. You need mercy, I need mercy, so let’s get past judging, punishing, applying the law of justice and truth to this relationship, and let’s look for ways to learn from our mistakes so we minimize them again in the future so that we can bring out the best in each other. I choose love and mercy as I choose us! Thanks for reading.