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Where Is Mercy?

Updated on June 5, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

Lost in politics

The following news headline and story has led me to think about mercy and how it is missing from the world today- Newsom denies Manson follower Leslie Van Houten parole.

The story talks about a crime committed roughly 50 years ago that still resonates in the minds of the victims’ families and others people. I was alive back then and know the story well but as a follower of Christ, I am inclined to review the actions of the California Governor and disagree with his decision.

It was stated later in the article that he made his decision because he had possible aspirations for higher office and did not want this kind of pardon haunting him as he campaigned.

This motivation actually disqualifies him for the office of president as it shows that he will put personal gain ahead of doing what is right and honorable.

God commands us to be merciful

In Micah chapter 6, the King James version of the Bible holds what may be the most familiar command about mercy. It reads:

8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

What you may not have noticed in this passage is that loving mercy does not restrict its implementation to only those offenders or crimes society finds nice, acceptable, non-brutal, heinous and so on.

Mercy is part of the equation even if the sentence being served is the result of a brutal crime no one alive at that time has forgotten. A brutal crimes such as the ones carried out by the late Charles Manson and his followers are still eligible for mercy.

Does mercy grant permission to commit crimes

No it does not. What mercy does is recognize an element in the offender that makes them eligible for a lighter sentence, a parole, or a pardon.Mercy exists because there are always extenuating circumstances that require mercy to be granted and the offender receives a break.

Those extenuating circumstances are varied and many. It is usually up to a judge to make this decision as he is the one who is head of the courtroom and in charge of justice.

Isaiah 55 tells us that mercy is free and no ulterior motives may be attached to bestowing mercy on those who need it.

Isaiah 47:6 tells us that withholding mercy can be seen by God as a crime, a sin and eligible for retribution. That California Governor committed a sin and a crime when he refused to go against the popular idea held by his voters and refused mercy to someone who has served 50 years of their sentence.

He was afraid to be honest and stand up for what is right. He was afraid to be a real leader of the state and set the correct example. Granting mercy to old offenders is not granting them permission to commit crimes again. It is showing them compassion and giving them a second chance to live by the laws of society correctly.

Jesus sets the right example

In Matthew 18:33 he says the following:

Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’

It is obvious that not everybody in Jesus’ time granted mercy to others even though they received mercy from him. Again, people have free choice to grant mercy and they should follow the example set by Jesus.

This does not mean we just have a blind policy and grant mercy on everyone. Jesus did not bestow it on the sinful religious leaders who did not repent of their evil ways. He would give mercy to those who had made the right steps to change their lives.

Sadly, Ms. Houghten did make the right changes, but those are ignored for reasons that have no foundation in reality. Politicians follow their own way not Jesus when rendering their decisions.

There are those criminals who do not repent of their ways and granting mercy would be wasted on them. The granting of mercy needs godly wisdom to guide it and that governor, like most politicians, does not possess that wisdom.

Mercy does not undermine justice

Like forgiveness, mercy is a vital tool in making sure justice was done. Mercy helps identify those people who use emotion to determine the guilt or innocence of an offender or how long their sentence should be./ Emotion is not a positive tool but one that destroys justice.

Mercy helps defend justice and make sure the punishment is not more than the crime. Paul writes in 1 Timothy1:16, the following:

even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief

Paul’s crimes were far more brutal than Ms. Houghten’s yet he received mercy and became a an apostle for Christ. I cannot expect the same results if Ms. Houghten receives mercy but I am sure that she was like Paul. She acted ignorantly in unbelief.

She deserves mercy and given the chance to continue her changed ways.

Some final words

Many people may not agree with the words written here and may find some scriptures to try and counteract these arguments. Regardless of their efforts, we are still under the command of God to love and show mercy to all.

Jesus did it for us when we did not deserve it, we need to continue his good work and do it to those who do not deserve it. To love as Jesus loves means we grant mercy even to those we hate.


© 2019 David Thiessen

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