He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8 KJV
From the time we are young, our parents tell us, “Be good.” For some, good is subjective. I often ask my clients about their goals for the day/weekend, especially after a major event such as a fight. 9 times out of 10, I hear, “Be good.” 10 times out of 10, when this is the case, I will follow it up with, “How does that look?” No surprise, the answer varies person to person. Depending on the person, the response can vary day to day.
I am often summoned to court, as a part of my job. I have learned a little bit about the judicial system as a result. A buzz word surrounding court cases is justice. Victims, families of victims, and DAs (the prosecution) desire justice – in fact, it rarely seems as though they feel as though justice has been fairly handed down. They want to ensure whatever justice has been handed down is maintained. The defendant (my client), their attorney, and their families often seek for a reduction with even the slightest hint of progress. Both sides, understandable.
There’s retributive justice – which is unilaterally punitive in nature. And, restorative justice – which is is a bilateral process that seeks to rehabilitate and restore both victim and offender who have been harmed and affected by a crime.
While many today see justice as a retributive process, we are instructed in Micah 6:8 and through the example of Jesus to utilize the restorative justice approach.
I recently reviewed case files of a high profile murder case that occurred some years back. There were many individuals, not necessarily directly involved with the case, who called for justice. The prosecution sought the death penalty in this particular case, and lost this sentence. The same individuals who cried for justice to be served, felt that it was not served when the convicted murderer was not sentenced to death.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:38-39 KJV
I am glad to be a part of a restorative justice approach, as I work in an Intensive Rehabilitation Program for Girls. I don’t know that before this job I ever really considered justice, what it really was, or meant. I admit, I had no thoughts or opinion toward justice. So, I also had no real appreciation for the justice that Jesus’ death and blood shed afforded me. Justice goes hand in hand with mercy, especially justice Jesus style.
See, I have heard, many times that God is a God of justice and His judgements are always fair. Once I was able to fully grasp this concept, and both apply it to my life and accept it. I was able to truly understand and begin to live out Micah 6:8
God loves us. Because He loves us, He is full of mercy. Even when He pours out judgement, His love is reflected in His judgements. He does not come from a place of retribution, or a punitive nature.
For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Proverbs 3:12 KJV
My lovely children all engaged in something that required me to discipline them. Now, they’re pretty good kids for the most part, and I don’t typically have to discipline them, so this was challenging for me, and I can imagine, for them as well. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to go back and undo the consequence I had handed down to my kids. However, I was reminded of the verse above. I was reminded that if I truly love my children, I will correct them. I will discipline them. It will help them to become better individuals in the long run. It helped me to understand that I serve a God, my Father, who hurts when He has to correct me. I mean, it isn’t His will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, so, it surely isn’t His will, and as our Father, it must surely be painful, when His children sin against Him, His Word, and He must correct us. Just as it caused me pain to correct my children.
*Original Image by Kaybee05