“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

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I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mercy Overpowereth Justice, Alma 34:15-16 by Ann Yoxtheimer

Very often, when I want to write about something, I find that what I want to write about is the subject of repentance. I'm fairy obsessed by it. The idea that we can be forgiven, and washed clean, by the sacrifice of a loving savior, and the mercy of a loving Father, humbles me to the bone.

I think a lot about mercy. When I see my little boy struggling to control himself, I think about mercy. When he lashes out at me in frustration, or boredom even, I think about mercy. I know that no matter what my children do, no matter how angry I am, I will forgive them if they're sorry (and sometimes if they're not!) Why? Because I love them. I love them so much, that I will never give up on them, even if they deserve it. And I am mortal. I am frail. I am subject to petty emotions, and mortal lack of understanding. I am not perfect, and yet I can love my children enough to forgive them anything.

One night, a few days ago, I sat in my bed to read before sleep. Most of the time, I don't pray before I read my scriptures. I know I should; I would get more out of it if I did. This night, however, I was seeking some sort of connection to my Father in Heaven. I do that sometimes. Sometimes I just pray to receive the knowledge that He is still there; He is listening, and He loves me. Like a little child asking, "Daddy, do you love me?" when she knows already what the answer is. She just wants to hear it. I do that. I want my Father to tell me that He loves me, because I am His little girl.

So I did just that. I prayed to feel His love, and I prayed to receive any inspiration that He felt like sending me that night. Then I opened up my scriptures, and I read.

I was reading chapter 34 in Alma, where he teaches the poor Zoramites the role of our Savior. He mentions the great sacrifice that our Lord will make for us, and then it says in verses 15-16:

"And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this las sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercies no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption."

The words jumped off the page at me, and I started to cry. I felt that burning in my bosom, and I knew my Father in Heaven knew me, and that he did indeed love me. But I knew more than that. I received a personal revelation that almost knocked me over.

Let me preface this next part by saying that I spent a lot of time reading the Bible dictionary last year. I read it from Aaron all the way to Zipporah. Some where in the middle of this alphabet, is the word "miracles." I love the way the author describes miracles. I'm going to paraphrase here, but he says that miracles are not deviations of natural law. They are divine manifestations of a lower law being superceded by a higher law. That struck me then, as the verses in Alma strike me now, and I will never forget either. Why? Because I realized that evening, while reading, that our Father's mercy to us is the same thing as the definition of a miracle. It is the act of a lower law being superceded by a higher law.

I have often been told in church that there are higher laws and lower laws. In this life, we are given the opportunity to prove which law we will live. Those who will not be subject to--or live--the higher law in this life, will be subject to the lower law in the next. Suddenly, that all made sense. Those who will not have faith unto repentance--and thus receive mercy--in this life, will be subject to the whole law of justice in the next life.

If we connect the dots, we come to the inevitable conclusion that mercy is a higher law than justice! That makes goose bumps stand out on my arms. I have never heard such a thing before, but it really is right there in the scriptures, therefore it must be true.

Now, I do say all of this with care. I understand that it sounds controversial at first, because we have heard that God is a God of Justice. And that is absolutely, one hundred percent true. But God is also a God of mercy, and that is also indisputable.

Christ created this world, and he created the laws that govern it. One of these laws is the law of gravity. This is not an unimportant law. This law governs most of the cause and effect relationships between objects, so of course this law is important, to us and to the Savior. So when Christ walked on water, did he break his own law? No, the lower law of gravity was superceded by the higher law of the priesthood. So it is with justice and mercy. Justice is as important a law as gravity. It defines our very concept of right and wrong, of Heaven and Hell. But because of the atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the law of justice can now be superceded by the law of mercy unto forgiveness.

The Celestial Kingdom is a kingdom of perfect righteousness. One cannot be spotted and enter in. But everyone is spotted with sin to some degree. How then can there be residents in the Celestial Kingdom? These people are people that have exercised faith unto repentance. These are people who are allowed to enter in because they have lived the higher law. They have been forgiven. They have been granted mercy unto forgiveness. Therefore, mercy MUST be a higher law than justice, because only by receiving mercy, can you enter into the Celestial Kingdom. Everyone else receives justice, to some degree.

I am so grateful for the law of mercy, that makes it possible for us to be forgiven of all of our sins, however grievous, if we truly exercise faith unto repentance.

1 comment:

  1. Hey. I was in my mother's ward this morning and we learned about the covenants we make. D&C 82:10 was quoted as the Lord being bound and the comments were made very similar to your post. I love when this happens. (I hear the same lesson twice in one day). We talked about gravity being a physical law and mercy and justice being a spiritual law. And you put it so well. that one is higher than the other. I agree.
    I also agree that there are laws that we are unaware of. So when Jesus walked on the water he may have been simply using a law that we do not know of that is related to his Priesthood Power.


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