To most, justice and mercy are contradictory.
In life, we expect either justice or mercy, but not both at the same time.
Yet the God who loves justice (Psalm 11) is also a God full of mercy and lovingkindness (Psalm 86:5). How can this be? We see the answer in Jesus Christ. Because He is just, God judges our guilt. Then in His mercy and love, He provides a way out: by coming down in the person of Jesus Christ, His Son, and pays the penalty for us. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God is both just and merciful.
Deacons model and demonstrate compassion (mercy) to those who are hurting; they provide hope and encouragement. At the same time, Deacons do justice by leading and encouraging their congregations to be advocates for and with the marginalized and vulnerable people in their local community.
What is Justice?
Justice, at its centre, is about relationships: our relationships with God, with each other, with ourselves, and with creation. God calls us — and Deacons especially — to restore relationships through the pursuit of justice, and to challenge lifestyles, choices and systems so that all may have the opportunity to participate fully in community as image-bearers of God.
What is Mercy?
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we see the essence of Jesus' teaching on mercy. An attitude of mercy says: "What's mine is yours if you need it."
In a nutshell, mercy - or compassion - is love in action. In all of their tasks, Deacons demonstrate in word and deed the care of the Lord himself.
"In imitation of Christ’s mercy, deacons teach us to love God, our neighbours, and the creation with acts of generous sharing, joyful hospitality, thoughtful care, and wise stewardship of all of God’s gifts. Deacons offer holistic responses that respect the dignity of all people, working to change exploitative structures and systems, equipping the church for ministries of reconciliation and peacemaking, and seeking opportunities for advocacy.”
Form for the Ordination of Elders & Deacons, 2016
“Justice without mercy is cruelty. Mercy without justice is the mother of all dissolution.”
Diaconal Ministries works with several agencies to inspire and equip deacons in the area of mercy and justice:
- Office of Social Justice
- Centre for Public Dialogue (Canada-specific)
- Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee
- Citizens for Public Justice
- World Renew
- Disability Concerns
*Not all of the resources listed were created in the CRCNA. For those that were not, we do not necessarily endorse every link or every statement on their websites. We hope these will aid in your conversations as deacons and churches.
Here are some resources to get you started.
Mercy (Compassion) Resources
Deacons are called to minister with compassion, aka mercy. Compassion is made visible through visits to people in the church and in the community.
Help with Benevolence
Benevolence is closely tied to stewardship but more specifically to how we support the people around us. The Charge to the Deacons tells deacons to “realize that benevolence is a quality of our life in Christ and not merely a matter of financial assistance" and to "be compassionate to those in need and treat them with dignity and respect."
Ten Ways to be a Caring Deacon
Ten tips to help deacons care for others, as well as themselves, as they live out their calling and serve their congregation and community.
Helping Without Harming in Church Benevolence
“I wish our church could do more to truly help those in financial need among us.”
Have you ever thought that? Building on the teachings of "Helping Without Harming," this workshop will guide your church and deacons to implement a wise approach to your benevolence work.
Benevolence 101 Workshop
Deacons show mercy and compassion through their Benevolence work, both in their congregations and in their community.
Contact your local Diaconal Coach or our field staff to go through this helpful workshop.
What is Justice?
A basic introduction to the deacon's role in advocating for justice.
Learn About Biblical Advocacy
Explore how to identify a situation in your community that is unjust and requires action.
Ready to find out more?
If you’d like to speak to someone about a justice issue in your community, hold a workshop or more... reach out to the Christian Reformed Church’s Justice Mobilizer, Cindy Stover.
3 Steps to Pursuing Justice in Your Church
Learn how to become aware, assess situations, and act for justice.
The Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue periodically sends out Action Alerts relating to our main justice issues. Each alert contains legislative background in a CRC context and a few talking points to address with your member of Parliament. Click on the button below to find out more and to view the latest alerts!
Not Sure Where to Start?
Contact your local Diaconal Coach today!
Do Justice is a conversation starter for justice in the Christian Reformed Church. Believing we are better together, they aim to find new ideas and perspectives and share better ways to engage in justice work, while remembering our motivation and growing our faith.
Visit their website today and subscribe to receive articles, prayers and more!
Ten Ways to Do Justice
A handout from the Office of Social Justice and Faith Formation Ministries.
Helping Without Harming
“When relief is merely a band-aid that alleviates the symptoms of poverty but fails to address the root causes, then it is illegitimate. Such assistance merely helps people to manage their poverty rather than to escape from it.”
('Establishing a Church-based Welfare-to-Work Mentoring Ministry', by Amy Sherman)
This workshop trains and equips deacons, churches, and organizations to address poverty and injustice both locally and globally. Based on the best-selling book, When Helping Hurts, by Brian Flikkert and Steven Corbett.
Cindy Stover, our Justice Mobilizer, will walk your diaconate through what is justice and how deacons and churches can actively 'love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with their God' (Micah 6:8).
Helping youth make a difference in their community!
Our NewGround Program includes a Youth Justice initiative to reach the next generation of justice-seekers and inspire them to get involved in their local communities!
Youth will find innovative ways to address an injustice in their community with the help of grant money and coaching, as well as by partnering with the deacons in their local church.