The Generosity of Justice

What do we do with people when they wrong us? How should we treat them? With justice, mercy or grace?

Justice is giving someone what they deserve. An eye for an eye would be considered justice. It’s a just punishment. Now, as a society, we have decided to use isolation in a prison, along with financial fines to be what we consider justice. You do the crime, you do the time…or pay the fine.

Mercy is giving someone what they do not deserve. This is a free pass. Freedom to keep going on their way. All charges have been dropped. Debt completely cleared. We would all be drawn to mercy if we are caught doing something wrong, but it is the most dangerous of the three, if it’s in isolation.

Grace is the hard work of restoration, in partnership with either justice or mercy. It is the intentional act of drawing someone in, acknowledging what they did, that it was wrong, that it caused damage and deserves justice, offering forgiveness and a fresh start. If mercy and grace are offered and not accepted and behaviour is not changed, then the appropriate response is justice and grace– not out of a desire for revenge or retribution, but as an opportunity to grow, develop and change.

All three are an act of generosity. The gifts of justice, mercy and grace. But it is grace that has the greatest power to bring healing and restoration to people and relationships. Grace is also the hardest one to give out.

I got that wrong

I feel bad now. At the time I was annoyed and I spoke quite harshly to him. But he wasn’t doing what I thought he was doing and he was actually being a bit of a hero.

I can understand my response. It was two in the morning and he had woken me up with his barking. Strike 1.

I could immediately tell that he wasn’t where he should have been. Strike 2.

Plus he didn’t seem to be keen to go back to bed. Strike 3.

I had to physically pick him up and put him back in his pen, making sure he couldn’t get out again.

That was all well and good until a little while later exactly the same thing happened. What is the deal with this dog?

I was not happy and I told him that. In the morning things were a bit icy between us still.

I found out later that our neighbours had four people try to break into their home in the early hours of the morning. Now I think I know what the dog was up to.

I’m not annoyed at him anymore. I’m proud of him.

I’m annoyed at myself for not checking out my surroundings when I was putting him back to bed.

I’m annoyed that I didn’t give the dog the benefit of the doubt. I read the situation very wrong and it has completely changed my perspective of the event. Sorry Jake.

It was a solid reminder to check my perspective of all events that happen, in case there is another explanation for what I am seeing.