Category Archives: Justice

Because We Mess(ed) Up

The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the Lord. -Proverbs 19:3 KJV

“How could a good God allow …”

This is how a popular accusation against the existence of God starts. Sometimes there are specifics (“… my son to die?”), but generally it is more general (“… evil to happen?”)

My question was “Why didn’t He stop me from making that stupid choice?”

In each of these, we are angry with God for something happening to us or to someone we love (or for evil in general).

The Thing We Fail To Understand

The root of all of this evil starts with our own human nature, with all of our boneheaded or uninformed decisions.

Boneheaded because we know better but want something now or in spite of reason.

Uninformed because of assumptions we make without all of the facts or plain ignorance.

However, it all goes back to our ultimate parents: Adam and Eve. Yes, we inherited this sinful (rebellious) nature.

But the failure to understand comes in how this applies to a good God.

The thing is, God created us with free will. It is tainted by sin, but we are still free moral agents.

This freedom to rebel against God is what allows us to freely love Him, but it also means that more often than not we choose rebellion.

And God lets the natural consequences play out.

(Still within His control, mind you.)

Why does God allow evil and sad things? Because He loves us enough to let us choose that which causes evil, but He is also just.

Death, pain, and natural disasters are a result of our ultimate parents’ sin, but we perpetuate and exacerbate the problem with our own sin.

He does intervene from time to time, but ask yourself this:

Would you want to help people who constantly complain and blame you for what others have done?

Why should we expect God to ever help us?

(The short answer: because of the grace poured out through Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross.)

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Don’t Play Red Rover With God

Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered. – Proverbs 11:21

I don’t know if saying “I love this verse” is the right and proper thing, but it does cause me to smile. Reading it brings a sense of comfort, sort of like God whispering in my ear, “Don’t worry, I’ll handle this.”

Mankind hasn’t really changed since the days when they decided to build a tower to the heavens and make a name for themselves (Gen. 11:4). They believe that if they can just come together, hand in hand, they can do anything. It doesn’t hurt to make a music video, either – just ask Michael Jackson.

Unfortunately, even though we humans do good things when we are unified, we tend to think the collective power of organized masses can overturn the laws of God.

Our modern versions of the tower of Babel take the shape of poll numbers, protests, million-man marches, voting majorities, screaming at the sky, and tens of thousands of pink ______ hats. They look like celebrity award shows, hashtags, and fabricated crises. All are meant to unify. All are meant to push an agenda.

Much of the time the agenda is to silence the voice of God, overturn His law, or throw Him out completely.

Yet, even though a recent survey stated that a majority of Americans (61%) are linked hand-in-hand in support of abortion, God says the wicked will not go unpunished.

When I was a kid we used to play a game called “Red Rover.” The idea was to line up in a line and hold hands, then send a kid from an opposing team into the line in order to break through. We would all line up and then call out to the opposing team to send a kid of our choosing, and if the kid didn’t break through, he was ours. We’d say, “Red rover, red rover, send Bobby (the weak kid) on over.”

No one ever yelled out, “Red rover, red rover, send Goliath on over!”

But the wicked are hand-in-hand, screaming at the sky, saying with a loud voice, “Red rover, red rover, send YHWH… the Great I Am… the Lion of the tribe of Judah… Elohim… Mighty God on over!”

“Though hand join in hand,” the wicked line of rebellion will not hold.

And I can’t help but grin.

Below is a cute video depicting how Red Rover works.


How You Act Matters

Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot. -Proverbs 10:6‭-‬7, KJV

Everyone loves justice. In fact, just looking around the world today shows this, with all variations of the protests and marches for equality and justice.

However, both those who are perceived as causing injustice and who fight against those injustices deal with public image.

Perceptions

How you pursue and create justice matters as much as finding justice.

Those who act and speak justly tend to be loved and (or, at least) respected. Others heap “blessings upon [their] head,” and they are remembered fondly when they are gone.

Conversely, those who resort to injustice in the search for justice are not only hypocrites, they may try to conceal violence and wrongdoing, lash out verbally and/or physically against those they disagree with, and/or condone injustices committed against their opponents. This ultimately leads to people speaking poorly of them, and it may not change after they are gone. Think of how Hitler is perceived so negatively. His name appears to be rotten.

How you act matters.

People will see what you do and judge accordingly. Further, justice is acting out the greatest commandments of loving God and loving others.

God has even told us His expectation:

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8 NKJV


The Avengers ride again!

admission-2974645_1920I had a hot date last night. 

Actually, it was a little chilly in the restaurant, so Bob (gentleman that he is) had me put on his jacket.  After dinner, we went to our town’s local Century 6 for a quick game of foosball in their arcade room, then entered with several others into the Marvel Universe to watch yet the next installment of the Avengers. 

Yeah, we’re old.  No apologies.

And no spoilers here, so don’t worry if you haven’t seen it, not that I’m recommending it, (because I’m not).  I’m sure there are plenty of critiques flying around anyway so folks can do their own research if so inclined.  As with any of these flicks, there are elements both worthy and otherwise.  The take-away for me might be a little different, however—it seems like even Hollywood admits (whether or not they realize it) that when you set yourself up as God, you end up destroying life instead of giving it.

Thanos is a really bad guy, the quintessential, hyper-super-villain.  He does more than tie the damsel to the railroad tracks; he does it to the whole universe.  It’s a superb perversion of the biblical concept of life from death, since this self-proclaimed protector thinks there are too many beings for the universe to support, so his plan is to kill off about half of us, but randomly, so that it’s “fair”.  This is his divine mission, bringing more life to those who remain. (Naturally, he’s not one of the random.) 

Thankfully, if you listen closely amid all the explosions in space, there is a short conversation between this erstwhile savior and his adopted yet defected “daughter” when she says that she had been happier with her own parents, despite their poverty.  Before Thanos off’ed them along with half of her planet, that is.  His concept of life from death really just ends in death—of the soul and heart, as well as the body.

And God is about life.  Always. 

In another screenplay, the concepts of Life and Death are also superbly contrasted in chapter nine of Proverbs.  In fact, they are seen as two women, both vying for our undivided attention, both calling from their respective domiciles, both with enticing offers:

Wisdom has built her house…
She has prepared a great banquet,
    mixed the wines, and set the table…
“Come, eat my food,
    and drink the wine I have mixed.

And her counterpart, Folly, has done the same:

The woman named Folly is brash.
    She is ignorant and doesn’t know it.
She sits in her doorway
    on the heights overlooking the city…

 “Come in with me,” she urges the simple.

door-3264790_1920This is a drama being played out like no other, 24/7. There is no stopping up my ears, either; will I choose Door #1, or Door #2…??  

Thanos is waiting behind one of them, so I’d better choose wisely.

Proverbs 9:1-2,5,13-14,16 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Just Like You Said

girl-563719_1280Children have an innate ability to (at least believe they) remember something you SAID. 

Y’know, like, six months ago. 

“But YOU PRO-O-O-M-I-S-E-D!!”

Busted!

Personally, I think it’s pretty humorous.  Kids will keep you, if not broke, then at least honest, when the money goes for braces instead of a new(er) car, or into the college fund rather than a retirement fund.  Disney over Cancun, that sort of thing.

Best not to tell a kid something unless you mean it.  To them, our words are powerful, like a contract signed in blood, and once they know you’re sincere, they’ll be back for more.  More encouragement, more love…more money.  (Always more money.)

Interestingly, it can be similar to the spiritual realm—Heaven is listening to what we say.  Unfortunately, Hell is also tuned in.  Now, I have heard my husband say that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman; He doesn’t force Himself on anyone.  He is forgiving and patient.  Consider the Prodigal Son who walked away and then said, “oops!” 

 Satan,…not so much.  

 “…if you have trapped yourself by your agreement
    and are caught by what you said—”

I realize the context of this passage from Proverbs is concerned with signing off on someone else’s debt, but perhaps the principle has further applications.  Author and counselor John Eldredge posits that we make spiritual agreements ALL THE TIME, sometimes in ways we don’t even realize:

 “How can I be so stupid?!”

 “I’ll never change.”

 “I’m nothing but a mess.”

 And with whom are we agreeing when we say these things?  Certainly not God!  His words over me are more along the lines of:

 “I am a new creation”.

 “I am loved.”

 “I have authority and purpose.”

The challenge comes when I realize that I have a choice: just who will I believe? (Jesus paid dearly so that I could have that choice, BTW.)  When I verbalize choices contrary to what God Himself says about me, I’m inviting spiritual influences in keeping with those decisions.  Because that’s what my words are—decisions.  Decisions to trust what I feel (or what the enemy is saying to me through a feeling) rather than the truth of God.

I can get trapped by that agreement. 

cross-3080144_1920The Good News, however, sets me free, since that’s what the Truth does.  Always.  Sure, I’m responsible for that freedom, but it’s paid for.  Like a good Father, He promised. 

And then signed it in blood.

Proverbs 6:2 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


When Silence is Self-Hate

Proverbs 29:24

“Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.”

Bewrayeth

When was the last time you used “bewrayeth” in a conversation? I don’t know if I have ever even seen it in a crossword puzzle. But before we go any further, let’s make sure we understand this old English word.

According to Strong’s Concordance,  the Hebrew נָגַד (nagad ) occurs 370 times in the King James Version. Besides “bewrayeth,” nagad is translated most often as “tell,” “declare,” and “shew.” Therefore, it is safe to conclude that “bewrayeth” carries with it the idea of making something known or telling it the way it is.

So, then, what does “bewrayeth’ have to do with partnering with a thief and hating one’s soul?

Partners

First, it must be understood that a partner in crime is just as guilty as his other partner in crime. The one driving the getaway car and the one laundering the money are just as guilty of bank robbery as the one who takes the bag of cash from the safe.

Are you a partner with a thief? Do you recoil at that question? Stop and consider that if you know of someone committing a crime, no matter how small, then you are just as guilty if you keep silent. For instance, do you know of a man who beats his wife and yet have never reported the abuse? If so, then you are enabling him to do his dirty work, which makes you his partner in crime.

Self-Haters

The hard thing to grasp is that when we try to stay out of something by remaining silent, we are not doing ourselves a favor. So many people will witness a wrong or learn of a crime, but keep silent in order to protect themselves. But even though one may stay out of the spotlight or courtroom, the one that “bewrayeth it not” hates his own soul.

What is a worse form of hate: to hate one’s body, or hate one’s soul? Which is worse, the fear of jail time or eternal damnation? Simply put, there are deeper consequences for “not getting involved” than for speaking out in the face of evil.

 


Rough Justice

Proverbs 29:15 

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child. (NLT)

I have memories of being disciplined as a child at home and at school. There were times when I thought that the punishments were unfair, but there were times when I knew I deserved what I got. Some punishments are no longer legal in the UK, such as the use of corporal punishment in school. In my junior school if the headmaster caught a pupil standing outside a classroom having been sent out for some misdemeanor then his overly large hand usually made contact several times with the backside of the offending pupil. It didn’t matter that the pupil had already been punished by being sent out from the class. At secondary school punishment was more brutal with the use of the cane, again against the backside of an offender. The cane inflicted significant damage breaking the skin. A caning was known as the ‘cuts’ for good reason. One caning was sufficient for me to make sure I never received another.

Detentions were another form of punishment. The ultimate sanction and one level below a caning was the ‘headmaster’s detention.’ When a teacher gave a headmaster’s detention details of the offence were recorded on a special form that had to be taken home and signed by a parent, then returned to the school where a lengthy after school detention took place under the supervision of the headmaster. The signing of the form meant that parents were fully aware of the sins of their offspring, often resulting in further punishment at home because of the shame/disgrace brought upon the family.

The punishments I hated the most were the punishments when I was blamed for something someone else had done. Adults also face miscarriages of justice, and there are men and women who have served years in prison for crimes they did not commit. A television program in the UK called ‘Rough Justice’ has resulted in a number of people being freed from jail, often many years after they were convicted despite being innocent.

It is easy to forget that rough justice is what Jesus faced after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane on trumped up charges. Those responsible for the events leading up to his execution, and especially the man who signed the execution order, were all fully aware of His innocence. Jesus may have died a shameful death, but He didn’t bring shame to His Father at any point during His life or death. In dying a shameful death Jesus brought glory to God and made a way for our shame and disgrace to be removed from God’s memory. Because Jesus accepted rough justice we do not have to face justice at all. And the name for that is grace.