“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23 ESV)
This is a message for anyone in a position of authority (i.e. parents, supervisors, judges, lawmakers, police officers). It is one thing to uphold rules, laws, and policy, but they must also be enforced in a humane way where everyone is given the right amount discipline and leeway so they can correct their behaviors. Laws are written to provide guidelines for civility and protection. By default, we are sinful people and we need structure so we don’t harm ourselves or others. If society functioned solely on the principle of “survival of the fittest,” then we would be living in constant fear. And living in fear really isn’t living.
While most of us will obey the laws of government, the laws of God supersedes all of them. He is our Great Judge and is also our Father. As a Judge, he will uphold justice and make sure that everyone pays a penalty for breaking his law. As a Father, he administers mercy because he is a God of second chances, only wanting us to repent and live under his guidelines. As Lord, he remains faithful to his word and his promises, even when we aren’t faithful to him. Justice, mercy, and faithfulness are to be maintained without compromise, which is what every leader must learn to do. This is a very complicated matter because leaders must also ensure that their emotions do not drive them to make extreme decisions.
For example, it’s easy for me to be hard on someone for breaking a rule when all he ever did was give me trouble. But what if someone I trust and favor breaks the same rule? Would I be equally harsh to him? If I show mercy to one person, then I must do the some for another, even the worst offender. And that is when the headaches begin, because not everyone will agree with my decisions. One thing I have learned about leaders is that everyone is watching them. Everything they say and do is tested against the principle of fairness; any signs of favoritism and discrimination can get anyone into trouble in the corporate world. This is why we exercise due process where everyone is treated fairly under the law. To uphold the virtue of faithfulness, we must honor the law, deliver justice where it’s needed, and administer mercy equally.
So the next time someone commits a wrong, we must carefully weigh out the disciplinary action so that it steers him back towards the right behaviors. And what we do for him, we must do for another who is guilty of the same thing. Lean on God and allow him to calibrate your weights and balances through his word and Holy Spirit. He will be sure to guide you in whatever role you serve.