Maintaining the Balance of Mercy and Truth
Proverb 3:1-4 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
When Solomon looked into the eyes of Rehoboam, I believe he saw these two wonderful qualities: mercy and truth, qualities that are so much a part of God’s character. Because he said to Rehoboam, “let not mercy and truth forsake thee,” it seems that those qualities were already present. Solomon saw a kind, loving, gentle, forgiving, and generous son. So he looked into his eyes and said, “Listen son whatever you do in life, do not allow mercy to depart. Don’t let them run away either.” You see God is the perfect balance of all good character traits, and He possesses the perfect blend of mercy and truth. However, these characteristics are not for Him alone. It is God’s plan and God’s desire for you and me to become men and women of mercy, and at the same time, men and women of truth.
There are 4 basic ways to keep and maintain the balance of mercy and truth.
Don’t allow mercy and truth to run away; go after them. Rehoboam received very good advice from his father and counselors, but he did not heed it. He turned his back on the truth and did not respond with mercy. Where did mercy go? What happened to truth? It was not there any longer. Rehoboam is a sad example of how absolutely imperative it is to maintain this balance. We all have a tendancy for to allow them to escape or run away when it is most needed. Because mercy and truth generally do not like each other, they mix like oil and water. We must always maintain mercy and always maintain truth. Truth is very much critical of mercy. Truth says, “Mercy, you’re weak. Mercy you don’t understand. If everything’s left to you, it’s going to fall apart.” On the other hand mercy says, “Yes, but without me, you’d be harsh and drive people away.” The problem is that most people let one or the other depart. Generally, the one that departs is the one that is our weakness. Which one are you weaker in?
Continue to keep the balance of mercy and truth. The commitment to keep mercy and truth is a decision you don’t make only one time in your life. Rehoboam had them once but eventually he let them run away. This is something you will have to come back to regularly. Knowing that, what can we do? How can we remain in balance between mercy and truth. Solomon said to Rehoboam, “Bind them (mercy and truth) about thy neck.” Make the decision to be kind, generous, gentle, good, and forgiving. Make the commitment to be honest, faithful, and truthful. Put on both mercy and truth, realizing that they are the key to being an effective leader. Problems are bound to occur without this critical balance.
Mercy and truth must become part of our character. Solomon also told Rehoboam, “Write them upon the table of thine heart.” In Bible times, writing on tables or tablets referred to carving something in stone. It was something that would never be changed or forgotten. That is how important both mercy and truth are. Proverbs 6:20-24 gives the idea that maintaining mercy and truth offers protection. It keeps us from evil as we navigate through life. Mercy and truth are vitally important as we walk with God day by day. Note the two analogies God uses – an outward, adorning necklace, and an inward tablet within our heart. Mercy and truth are for both outward and inward relationships.
Etching of God’s qualities in our character The etching of God’s qualities in our character is a result of God’s hand on my hand. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 states, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, in fleshly tables of the heart.” I want to be a balanced Christian with both mercy and truth, but to save my soul, I can’t seem to etch them in my character. I can’t change me; but what I can do is say, “God, I can’t change me, but You can; etch it in my character. Would You Help me?” He uses the writing instrument of the Holy Spirit to etch His character on my nature.
Now God is bringing me to a place of completeness in mercy and completeness in truth, so that I can maximize my potential and effectiveness in every part of my life. That is the result of maintaining mercy and truth. “So shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”