by, Isam Itson III
Matthew 23:23 – “justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others”.
Once our relationship with God is secured in Jesus Christ we have nothing to fear. This enables us to give ourselves more fully to blessing others. Not only our eternal life, but also our present life and livelihood is secure in Jesus Christ. God will always provide enough for us to do what he wants us to do in the moment. We no longer need to live with a fear of tomorrow, because we understand that our life and daily provision are in God’s hands. We need only be faithful with the time and relationships God has already given us.
Our faithfulness is expressed in being, just, merciful, and faithful in relationship with others. In God’s courtroom the judge is prone toward mercy. 2 Peter 3:9 states that God does not desire that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. Judgement delayed is forgiveness made possible. When we “do” justice we are acting in ways that honor God’s love and faithfulness as the creator, provider, advocate, and ruler for every person on the planet. Even if they don’t believe he exists or that they owe their lives to him.
Mercy is the expression of God’s love and grace to a helplessly sinful people in a fallen world. Remember, the heart of sin is taking our lives into our own hands rather than acknowledging the sovereignty and faithfulness of God in our lives. We commit all types of short sighted offenses against the character, wisdom, and authority of God because we are filled with fear for our own life or reputation. God’s justice is merciful and his mercy is just. This offends us unless we are the one who needs mercy.
God’s response to our offensive behavior is offering opportunities for our good standing in relationship with him to be restored. Restoration and reconciliation is God’s loving response to our wrongdoing. God’s love is the heart of God’s mercy. People may have to endure painful consequences for their wrongdoing, but God never wants us to treat them as if they are worthless. God loves them and Christ died for them. God wants our attitudes and actions in relationship to them to reflect his love for them. That’s how we “do” mercy.
Faithfulness is another word for integrity. Faithful people are worthy of our trust. Faithful people have a proven record of honoring the love, loyalty, and authority of God no matter how much it costs them. Faithful people are willing to endure temporary pain, discomfort, and loss for the sake of long term fulfillment. Faithful people do not tend to sacrifice ultimate benefit and reward in exchange for instant gratification. Faithful people fall and fail, but they do not give up. We “do” faithfulness by continuing to show up with our best effort, no matter what.
Justice from God’s perspective pays the penalty for the sins of others. Faithfulness from God’s perspective embraces suffering for the sake of others. Mercy from God’s perspective makes room for more of his children to live with him now and forever. To the degree we trust God’s love and faithfulness to us in Jesus Christ, we function as God’s ambassadors, spending our energy for the good of others in faith filled obedience to God. This is how we do justice, mercy, and faithfulness as citizens of God’s kingdom and followers of Jesus Christ.
1. Take stock of your time for one or two weeks and determine how much is devoted to concern for your own interests and how much is committed to the wellbeing of others.
2. Ask God to reveal where you are afraid that His immediate grace is not enough for you. Don’t give in to feeling ashamed. Everyone is afraid of something.
3. Repent of your unbelief by trusting God more as you meditate on His word, thank Him for His love and grace revealed in Jesus Christ, and look to the Holy Spirit to help you honor God’s love for others.