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Talbott Blog

Mercy and Justice

Reading in Proverbs 15 this morning, I came across a verse I had previously highlighted: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Pr. 15:3) So is this a vengeful, wrathful God looking for any wrongdoing so He can punish it?

Yes and no. First of all, if God were just looking to punish me, He has had every right to banish me to hell from the moment I was brought in to existence: “There is none righteous, no not one.” (Ro. 3:10) “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” (La. 3:22)

God’s mercy does not negate His justice; while He desires to give me every chance to repent, a day of judgement will arrive: “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Mt. 12:36) “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27)

Thankfully, a substitute has been provided for me so that I do not have to stand condemned before God in the day of judgement: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Ro. 5:6-9)

But I already knew all of this when I read the verse (although it was good to review). What stood out to me this morning were those three little words at the end of the verse: * “and the good.”* Upon further reflection a light began to dawn: how could God reward and bless me when I do well unless He was watching everything? What about when I repent after doing wrong? If God were not watching me then, how would He know and extend His grace?

So I find yet again the mercy of God tied up with his judgement. He cannot hide His face from sin, not only because of His justice, but also because to do so would mean hiding His face from sinners, whom He loves and desires a relationship with. But if He sees sin, His justice requires a penalty for it, and that penalty must be paid. Thus I return to considering His mercy, because He’s already paid the penalty… and so it goes.