Sunday, January 07, 2007

Caring for the Poor (21) - Justice and Mercy

Mercy should always be much busier than justice. Justice has nothing to do in many situations, because there is no injustice. Mercy should be busy all the time, because there will always be people who are worse off than others and in need of assistance.

I am concerned about an increasing trend to use the word justice, when mercy is really required. Some Christians see all inequality as a cause for justice. They equate justice with equality of income or equality of wealth. Every inequality requires justice, whether Gods law has been broken or not. This confusion is dangerous, because it turns mercy into a legal obligation.

Confusing justice and mercy causes every inequality to be seen as an injustice that someone has a legal obligation to correct. Often that obligation is placed upon the civil government, so mercy-converted-to-justice becomes the basis for state sponsored redistribution.

Justice and mercy are both concerned with equality, but in different way. Justice requires equality before the law, so that everyone receives justice, whether they are rich or poor. Justice should provide equal justice to everyone, but it will not give everyone equal incomes or equal wealth.

Mercy is much less concerned with causes and is more concerned with equality of outcomes. Mercy works through voluntary giving and sharing. As mercy becomes more effective, incomes and wealth will become more equal.

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