Posts Tagged ‘Mercy’

JusticeI wish I could recall who I first heard the following definitions from years ago, but I can’t.  Nevertheless, the following definitions of justice, mercy and grace have stuck with me for a long while.  Here they are:

  • Justice is getting what you deserve.
  • Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
  • Grace is getting more than you deserve.

I think I’m correct in stating that as a rule the following is true:

  • We are eager to see other people come to justice for the wrongs they commit.
  • We at least want mercy for ourselves when we do wrong.
  • What we really want for ourselves is grace.

We have that backwards.  Oh, that the following was more common:

  • That we would be willing to accept justice for what we do;
  • That we would be willing to extend mercy even if it isn’t deserved;
  • That we would rejoice with others when they are the recipients of grace.

I’ve been a little more stressed than normal for a few days.  Some of it is work related and some is personal.  Some is due to the crazy list of things I’m supposed to get done this week that doesn’t give me a minute to pause, even throughout the weekend ahead.  The tiring pace of the schedule is made more tiring when there isn’t even a large block of hours over the weekend to just chill and catch my breath.

That’s why I am thankful for a little bit of kindness and mercy shown to me today.  The kindness that really touched me was an extremely nice note shared publicly on our internal social network about the work I do and this person’s belief in it’s positive impact on the company.  The mercy shown was when a 6pm Friday deadline for a quiz I need to take was extended to late Sunday evening.

I knew I wouldn’t make the original deadline because of work demands, so I let the person know that I would get it done later tonight.  I usually have to do these at home on my own time, anyway, so 6pm deadlines are tough to make.  Doing it last night or any other night this week wasn’t an option, either, due to my schedule.  So you can imagine the sigh of relief when I learned that the gentleman was extending the deadline a couple of days.  Several others were also delighted at the news.

It reminds me of a general principle that I tried to follow as a parent more often than not – when you can, say ‘yes.’  The idea is to not be so rigid on things of little long-term consequence that you end up saying ‘no’ just because it’s the rule or more convenient to do so.  Sometimes it’s much better to say ‘yes’ to requests even though it may alter your plans or inconvenience you in some way.

So my thanks go to Teri for her well-timed words of encouragement and to Jim for saying ‘yes’ when he didn’t have to.

Leap year lesson #292 is Kindness and mercy make a healing salve.

The following is a reflection that comes strictly from my Christian convictions, so if that isn’t your thing, feel free to click somewhere else…

We hear a lot about justice these days.  Sometimes the context is clearly judicial in the sense of someone seeking or receiving justice for some illegal act.  At other times, “justice” becomes something of a code word for those who would freely take from those who have and give to those that have less (although it’s hard to see how that’s justice if not given freely by those who have).

A related term is “mercy.”  We hear about people throwing themselves on the mercy of the court or pleading for mercy.  It is an acknowledgment that punishment may be deserved, but a plea to not suffer such consequences.

In my worldview (which is unapologetically Christian), these two words have a third term that belongs in the same conversation – “grace.”  I don’t recall where I first heard the following definitions of these three terms many years ago, but they have stuck with me and make a lot of sense, so I offer them to you here:

Justice: Getting what you deserve

Mercy: Not getting what you deserve

Grace: Getting more than you deserve

It seems that when it comes to the judicial system, we’re quick to want justice when the one being punished is someone else. Yet we are quick to want mercy when we are the ones deserving of punishment.  That seems a bit two-faced to me.

These terms have the most meaning for me in the context of my faith.  What I deserve is justice.  What I might plead for in my wildest hopes is mercy – not getting what I deserve.  But what I have been given by a loving God is grace – far, far more than I could ever deserve.

I pray that I never forget that, and I hope than in the course of living with others I demonstrate that same grace to those around me regardless of what they deserve.

Leap year lesson #140 is Live the difference between justice, mercy and grace.