My Musing – What man naturally desires (planning iniquity/plotting evil, carrying it out because we can, walking in pride) is contrary to what God desires for us (loving mercy, acting justly, walking in humility), “[f]or the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:17). Despite our evil tendencies, God delights in showing mercy, in forgiving and treading our sin underfoot.
But God’s desires are more than just desires, they are a game plan for doing what He desires by aligning our motives, lifestyle and actions.
Loving Mercy: Our Inner Motivation – Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)
Mercy means compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one that is under one’s power. The verse quoted above says, “be” merciful rather than “show” mercy or “act” merciful. “Being” implies an internal quality or motivation. It means it is part of who we are. God is just as interested in who we are (or what He makes us) as He is in what we do. One can “act” merciful without “loving” mercy. But you cannot “be” merciful without “loving” mercy.
Acting Justly: Our Outward Expression – “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will be revealed.” (Isaiah 56:1)
To be just means to act in conformity with what is morally upright or good. We are instructed to “act” justly rather than to “love” justice or “be” just.” One can “act” justly without “being” merciful. Some may even “love” acting justly without “loving” mercy. Despite “loving” mercy, we are instructed to “act” justly. Many times (most of the time) these two may be in conflict. Without the blood of Christ, they would be irreconcilable. While we may not “be” just, our actions are still called to be in conformity with justice.
Walking Humbly With God: A Consistent Lifestyle – “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Matthew 11:29)
Humility is a spirit of deference or submission. Being humble means to destroy independence or the prestige of power. Understanding what we justly deserve absent the grace and mercy of God should result in true humility. It should make us to want to walk in step with God. Understanding the mercy that He has bestowed on us, should make us long and love to show mercy to others. It is difficult to conceive of someone walking humbly with God without loving mercy. Likewise, it is difficult to conceive of someone acting unjustly and walking humbly with God.
My Advice – Keep these three qualities in balance in your life. Because “it is in your power to do it,” do not neglect “the more important matters of the law ~ justice [acting], mercy [loving] and faithfulness [walking]” (Matthew 11:29). Be like God in these matters and do what He “requires.”
Are we loving mercy? Are we acting justly? Are we walking humbly with God? What are some things we could to improve on these character traits?
Note: Bible verses from NIV 1978.