Today, Oscar Pistorius received a sentence for the killing of his girlfriend. 5 years. He could be released after 10 months in jail to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest. Punishment, how much is enough? The Bible says an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. Jesus, at the stoning of the woman caught in adultery, is reported to have said "let the one who is without sin cast the first stone at her."
The judge in the Pistorius case said her sentence was a balancing act between retribution and clemency. "'I am of the view that a non-custodial sentence would send the wrong message to the community,....on the other hand, a long sentence would not be appropriate either as it would lack the element of mercy'"
Christians find their Bible filled with both judgment and mercy. How do we exercise balance between the two? Admonitions against taking the Lord's name in vain, homosexual practice, stealing, lust, murder, (the list goes on) salt and pepper the pages. What is a Christian to do?
Karen helped me on this one. She said "In my moment of reckoning before St. Peter, at that time of life that we call death, when I meet my God face to face, I will say 'I may not have gotten it right God but I tried to do exactly what you wanted me to do. I confess that I did not always know what that was so when the struggle forced me to choose between judgment and mercy, I chose mercy.'" That appears to conform to Micah 6:8 don't you think?
Some folks will say "Where is justice for Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend Pistorius killed, when he gets off with a 5 year prison sentence?" Others might ask "will a lengthy sentence bring Reeva back?" What do you think?
It is my hope that Christians will be forever identified as the people who, when given the choice between retribution and mercy, judgment and forgiveness, we will choose mercy and forgiveness every time.