I am thrilled and delighted to welcome this wonderful author to Chirp 'N Chatter! I consider April W. Gardner a dear friend, and I'm honored to showcase her latest novel. Her thoughtful post gave me plenty to think about...and I'm sure many others will be pondering her message for a while.
Mercy and Justice, a True Balancing Act
|April W. Gardner|
Have you ever taken one of those spiritual gifts tests? They’re quite revealing, but I’ve never needed one to know I score a big, fat zero in the mercy department. Justice though... I’m all about justice. Poor choices deserve the burn of consequences.
A kid lies? Bam! Restriction.
A driver speeds? Caught ya, sucker! Ticket for you.
Employees steal? They’re fired. Boom!
It all sounds peachy to me!
My poor children. When they step outside the lines, it is an active effort on my part to show compassion and be understanding toward their weaker natures. My knee-jerk reaction is to pull out the whip of the law.
Justice! One of my favorite words.
When God impressed on me the themes of my most recent novel—mercy and justice—I figured I was the least qualified person to broach the topic. However, in His perfect way, He knew exactly where I needed to be stretched, and over the seven months He used me to craft the story, He poked and prodded at my flaws, making them large in my mind, and reminding me that no one deserves any quantity of mercy, grace, or forgiveness, and that He alone is righteous enough to wield the gavel of justice.
My character, Marcus Buck, learns the same lesson. Because of wrongs committed against him, he drives through life seeking justice against those who hurt him—all in accordance with the law, of course, but swift, fierce justice nonetheless. The same story’s female lead, Lillian McGirth, knows beyond a doubt she deserves the most righteous justice there is—an eternity apart from God. Mercy is only for the deserving, she says. There will be none for her, an unwed mother with the label “traitor” hovering over her head.
What neither of these characters at first realizes is that God doles out mercy and justice as a packaged unit and in bountiful, equal measure. In our finite human minds, we tend to separate these two qualities, but God cannot give one without the other. More than that, He cannot be one without the other. He is all mercy and all justice in one perfect being.
Thomas Aquinas said, “Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution; justice without mercy is cruelty.” I don’t know about you, but I scratched my head at the word “dissolution.” Come to find out, it’s a form of the verb “to dissolve” and an old way of saying “falling apart.”
In other words, those who pardon without also delivering some form of consequence are creating destructive situations for themselves and for those they’re forgiving. Conversely, those who dispense penalties that aren’t regulated by mercy are cruel.
You know which of those two stings my heart. Ouch! Do you identify with either of them? If so, in what practical way can you adjust so that your behaviors and reactions reflect Christ’s perfect character?
We’ll end on a beautiful piece of advice about balancing mercy and justice, given by God through the prophet Zechariah. “This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’” (Zech. 7:9)
About the book:
A man of abiding honor tested
by a woman of ruinous passion.
A woman of unspeakable sins pursued
by a God of unquenchable mercy.
For those who enjoy saga-length Christian historical romance. Bitter Eyes No More is a single, complete story. It is book four in the Creek Country Saga.
A man of abiding honor, tested by a woman of ruinous passion. A woman of unspeakable sins, pursued by a God of unquenchable mercy.
Spanish Florida once sheltered Lillian McGirth from her fears. Now, it feeds them. Mercy is for the deserving; for Lillian, an unwed mother accused of treason, there is only battering and defeat, but her fall breaks softly in the arms of an unexpected arrival, a man too beautiful of soul to stain with her lost character.
Captain Marcus Buck sails in on a pledge to save Miss McGirth from herself and from her child's father, a ruthless don. All the while, he’s to regard her as virtuous and worthy of protection and to guard said virtue from pilfering. But the terms are flawed since he must first guard her from himself. Regardless, he is determined. He will free her, repair her name—simple labor compared to dodging the army’s noose, mending wounds three years deep, and navigating a host of rebel Natives bent on inflicting more.
Through the steady crumble of his pledge, their friendship becomes a consolation, for she knows his pain as no other can or will. Their scars are one; their paths, however, might irrevocably become two…
About the Author:
APRIL W GARDNER writes history with a Christian perspective and a little imagination. She is a copyeditor, military wife, and homeschooling mother of two who lives in Texas. She writes Christian historical romance with a focus on our Southeastern Native Tribes. In no particular order, April dreams of owning a horse, learning a third language, and visiting all the national parks.
April loves to hear from her readers at: