“All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.”
Two words that seem to have no way of adjoining themselves are mercy and truth. Often those who seem to want mercy are those who want nothing to do with truth, and those who focus on truth find it hard to have mercy. The best way to describe this are the established rules of a school. There are some in a school who are “hardliners,” and these are they who enforce the rules to the letter of the law. You then have those who feel the rules are “too hard” who find themselves always allowing students to get by with breaking the rules because they are afraid the rules will drive the students away. The problem with this scenario is that neither approach will work by itself. You must have mercy and truth working together to keep the peace and to keep the heart of the individual from becoming hardened.
The verse above says, “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth…” In other words, every pathway that the LORD gives His children to walk will only be accomplished properly when mercy and truth are embraced and practiced. A person who only follows truth with no mercy is a person who has left the paths of the LORD. Moreover, the person who is merciful and avoids truth is a person who has left the “paths of the LORD.” You can’t walk in God’s paths without mercy and truth. We must learn what mercy and truth are if we are going walk in the LORD’s paths successfully.
Mercy is not giving someone what they deserve. Truth is enforcing what the law says to do. Truth is the police officer pulling the driver over for speeding, but mercy is the same officer giving a warning instead of a ticket so as to remind the driver to be more careful in keeping the speed limit. The purpose of mercy is to caution the believer to be more careful in obeying the truth. Mercy is not a license to continue in sin, but mercy is the warning that sin has consequences if you continue in sin’s pathway. Let me share a few observations with you about the importance of both mercy and truth.
First, mercy needs truth to stay on the paths of the LORD. Mercy alone always leads to compromise. Mercy is God’s way to warn you that you are leaving the paths of the LORD. Mercy is the bumps in the middle of the road that warns you that you are leaving the lane of truth. You cannot be merciful if you leave truth. If truth is not followed and enforced, mercy has become nothing more than an excuse to continue in sin.
Second, truth needs mercy to keep from destroying those who disobeyed truth. Verse 11 shows the importance of having mercy when you follow truth. You will never restore the fallen if you don’t have mercy in your heart. The person who is so focused on truth that they have no mercy is the person who will never let the fallen start over. Yes, there are consequences to breaking truth’s law, but you cannot be the person who doesn’t let people start over. You must be merciful and let the punishment end so that the person who is suffering the consequences of sin sees hope in the future. If a person sees no end to sin’s consequences, they will have no purpose of coming back to God.
If you are going to be a life-changer, you are going to have to be a person who follows truth, but is also merciful to those who have strayed from the truth. When mercy and truth are kept, you will find others will want to walk the paths of the LORD with you.