These questions point us to how God wants us to see justice, judgment, and mercy. Of course, justice and judgment are important to God. Still, mercy is important, if not most important. But how is mercy, perhaps, more important than justice or judgment? Well, of the control we have on events, we have control of mercy. In contrast, justice and judgment are prohibited and left to God. For instance, Scripture says, “judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5). This statement stresses that we are not to judge; correct and precise judgment will happen when Jesus Christ returns. Such judgment is impossible through us.

Permitted Mercy

But mercy is not prohibited. That means that we can act on mercy as we will. But is not mercy a commandment? Is it not our duty? As a matter of fact, Jesus commands us to have mercy and to do merciful acts. Such mercy is shown through Jesus’ actions toward sinners. For example, one day Jesus sat at a table to eat with known sinners. Yet people who saw Jesus talk and eat with these sinners audibly opposed Jesus’ actions. But Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mathew 9:12-13). In this statement Jesus refers to a verse found in the book of Hosea. 

Disappearing Mercy

In the book of Hosea, God speaks about priests who lack love. God says, “Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears…As marauders lie in ambush for a victim, so do bands of priests” (Hosea 6:6, 9). Here, God describes priests who have a thirst for blood instead of a thirst for godlike mercy and love. Such priests wait to catch people to kill instead of having mercy on people. Thus, their evil actions are contrary to the actions of Jesus and lack any sense of mercy. So God, in Hosea, says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). God stresses that recognizing God, his character, and having mercy are more important than the legal aspects of his providence. Furthermore, the fact that God desires these things should encourage his followers toward mercy.