Should he tell? Would he complain? The student at an elite Manhattan high school worried how to respond to abuse from a onetime friend. The classmate often called him ugly racial names—to his face. Another shared a photo of him around school, the caption calling him a “monkey.”
Trying to focus on his school work, he vowed to ignore the humiliation. Yet he didn’t seek punishment. He’d seen students expelled from school become embittered by such justice.
Then a teacher, “horrified” at what was happening, inspired the school to offer an innovative solution—restorative justice. The main goal? To restore. Indeed, to repair harm done.
Put in dialogue, the student and his offender talked honestly and listened, his ex-friend eventually apologizing— their tender friendship sweetly renewed.
What made this justice so healing? Mercy. It’s a stunning biblical gift. As the nation of Israel learned, when God issues justice in one hand, He often offers mercy in the other.
Jesus provided that golden combination on the cross, suffering for our sins “once for all” (Hebrew 10:10)—thus, satisfying a just God, while dispensing to us His loving mercy.
The sinful nation of Israel received a similar reprieve. Scheming to offer to God empty sacrifices—burnt offerings, year-old calves or “rivers of olive oil”—Micah told them: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:6-8).
Do we offer mercy as eagerly as justice? It’s a holy gift worth giving.
Patricia Raybon, Our Daily Bread author
Displaying the character of Christ is not always easy, especially in a society that promotes selfish ambition. Discover how you can become a channel of God’s love and kindness when you follow the example of Christ—the One whose compassion never fails.
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