There is actually a pretty easy way to determine if/when we fall into the trap of tending to justice when we are equipped only for mercy. We can do a reasonably easy self-assessment or invite input from another and determine where we are on the scale between the two. Our hearts will lie to us and convince us that we are righteous in our attitudes, so we have to work from the outside-in.
We can examine how we are loving others. Not how we feel about others, but how we are treating others. It can include our feelings, but it will likely also incorporate our words and actions. Our words and actions are factual and not just theoretical. Love is a verb, not a Hallmark card; so how have we acted in agreement with love?
Luke 7:47 tells us that “he who is forgiven little, loves little.” He who only realizes that they are forgiven enormously can love enormously.
If we’ll assess the depth of our own depravity, we will know the enormity of our own forgiveness. When we realize how jacked up we are, we’ll also know the tremendous cost of mercy for our forgiveness. Sound simple? It is until you’ve sat in a church for years or decades and you are polished enough to think your stuff is no big deal. After all, you’re not (any longer) as bad as “them.”
A fresh look at how we love will be a fresh look at how we value grace. If we are swinging the hammer of justice where we should be offering the reception of mercy, we’ve likely forgotten. When we think others need our reminders of how bad they are, we’ve likely forgotten how bad we can be. That fresh look and reminder of our own forgiveness will fill us with fresh appreciation for the mercy we have received. With that reminder, we’ll also be reminded of the mercy we have received and value something we are able to give away.
Remember the bad stuff about you. Not only the socially unacceptable stuff, but also the heart condition stuff. Read the Bible for a clean lens of what is right and true and then compare the condition of your soul with that reminder of Holy. When the stuff within you contrasts the Holiness of the Word, repent (change your mind to agree with the Word). Remember where mercy was given when justice was justified and from that realization, give away what you have received.