Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Love, Justice, And Mercy

There are several ways of writing either "mercy" or "compassion" in Hebrew.
The three most common for compassion are follows:
  1. חֶמלָה
  2. רַחֲמָנוּת 
  3. רַחֲמִים 
And for mercy:
  1. רַחֲמִים
  2. חֶמלָה 
  3. רַחֲמָנוּת 
Same three words.
And to anybody who may be curious, i did use Google Translate for this--shoddy source, but it gets the job done. I'm not a multilinguist; barely have i a grasp on my first language, let alone a second.

This is the reason some versions say God has compassion for us, whereas another would say He has mercy on us. Essentially the same words, same expressed meaning.
A friend and i were discussing how justice and love come together, and how mercy would fit into the mix. This is my personal opinion.

Firstly, i'll state that compassion has the prefix of "com," which means "together" or "with." Passion is "ardent love."
So compassion means, in essence, "with great love."
The Passion of Christ was His transference from King of The Universe to Servant of All and, ultimately, obedience to men unto the point of receiving a criminal's death sentence (Philippians 2:5-8).
We, as Christians, must show mercy to all without exclusion or condition. In this mercy, we show compassion to them for the glory of God. We share with Christ His passion for them.

Galatians 2:20, Paul says it's no longer he that lives, but Christ living in him, as he has been crucified with Christ.
When we show compassion for people for the sake of God's glory, we share in Christ's passion, in His crucifixion, and we crucify ourselves with Him. We cannot show compassion except at the cross, and not because of us, but because of Christ.

Now, love and justice are a tricky pair.
Love is undue. In terms of its nature, it is not treating someone how they deserve to be. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Justice is treating one how they deserve to be treated, taking into account their wrongs and their sins.
Justice and mercy seem to contradict, but there is a point where the two marry.
At the cross.

At the cross, justice for us was set upon the shoulders of Christ, yet by His very nature, He is love (looking over those who had crucified Him, He said "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.")
That is love. There is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friends.
Jesus, embodying love, was now holding justice upon Himself as He hang from the cross.
They fused at the cross and became something new. They became passion.
For this, as products of that passion, as people set upon by grace, sinners who are forgiven by God's love and mercy, we are to look at others "with great love," or with compassion--with His passion.
When we forgive, when we have compassion for someone, we do as Jesus did; we take their sin upon ourselves to unburden them of it, and in sharing His passion with them, sharing the cross with Christ, He takes it from us ("For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you").
We forgive because He first forgave us.
By forgiving those who have wronged us, we show them love by not counting their transgressions against us. This love expresses mercy. But it's no longer mere mercy that we show them, but justice since the death of Christ. It's justice because God showed us mercy, and it would be unjust for us to not show them the same mercy that was shown to us ("while we were still sinners, Christ died for us").

At the cross, justice and mercy become united, and love is their conduit.

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