Category Archives: Mercy

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.

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Beyond Criticism

Proverbs 29:1 

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery. (NLT)

Following the Rules

Few of us enjoy being criticized, told off, corrected or reproved. What is important, however, is the manner in which we react when faced with criticism or reproof. Take the Pharisees, for instance. These were a group of people who wrote the book on criticism. They had so many rules, you would have thought that they would have walked around heads hung in shame, given the impossibility of compliance.  But they didn’t. They walked around heads held high, proud in the fact that they were rule keepers, not rule breakers. And in their pride they criticized everyone who did not reach their high standards of perfection.

Valid Criticism

What the Pharisees considered perfection was a falsehood, a lie. Jesus was an exposer of lies. When He came to the attention of the Pharisees they invested heavily in using their laws and rules to bring Him down. But they failed miserably because their criticism had no validity. And while the Pharisees were experts at dishing out criticism, they were unable to accept being under the spotlight and told that they were wrong.

Freedom

You could argue that it is simpler to live without rules. That is what infuriated the Pharisees about Jesus. He didn’t just break the rules, He lived as if there were no rules. The problem was that they had become blind to reality through their obsession with a legalistic approach for the one thing that could have brought them freedom, and life. God didn’t send Jesus to earth to write a new book of rules, but to show God’s true character to humanity. Jesus came because humanity had it wrong and has still got it wrong. God does not sit up in heaven criticizing us, but loving us. And if we can truly surrender to that Love then we will find freedom from criticism, and freedom from criticizing.

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” (Matthew 15:10-13 NLT)


Worms Need a Savior, Too

Proverbs 28:24

“Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.”

We All Do It

There are many people in the world that call right “wrong,” and wrong “right.” As a matter of fact, we all probably do it, and a lot more than we think.

When is the last time you broke the law and sped down the highway? Did you justify your actions with something like, “They should have never made the speed limit that low.” When is the last time you watched a rated-R movie and condoned the sex or violence as “art” or “entertainment”? Does Philippians 4:8 (whatsoever things are pure…think on these things) ever cross your mind?

So, before we read the above proverb with too much indignation, let us first examine our own actions.

Friends of Murderers 

But before we get all depressed and feel like we have no moral high ground, let’s get back to the message of the proverb at hand. Simply put, the one who steals from his own mother and father lives in the gutter of humanity.

I personally like the way the New Living Translation deals with this proverb: “Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, “What’s wrong with that?” is no better than a murderer.” That’s right, the one who steals from his parents is no better than a murderer. Pretty harsh, isn’t it?

Oh, but wait! What does the Bible say in 1 John 3:15? It says: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer…” A murderer! Seriously, I can’t stand the scum who would rob his parents and say, “No big deal.” That kind of person needs to be dealt with in the harshest manner. But then again, what he really needs is a Savior.

Alas! and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I? 
 – Isaac Watts

Justice Understood

Proverbs 28:5

“Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.”
“Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the LORD understand completely.” – NLT
Media Courtrooms

One of the greatest hindrances to the legal system is the media. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that the public can find out what goes on our courtrooms. However, when the public relies solely on the media (especially social media) to keep them abreast of all the details of a trial, nothing but confusion, misinformation, and bad judgment can come from it.Conscience and law

Depending on who is reporting the news, one arrested for a crime might either be portrayed as a monster, or the second coming of Ghandi. Then, when one adds the prejudices of certain segments of society, it wouldn’t matter who did what, just as long as justice is seen to favor the group prejudiced against. In the meantime, as Rome burns, the media fuels the fire for the sake of ratings.

Perspectives

No matter the case, this proverb tells us that from an evil person’s perspective, compared to one who “follows the Lord,” he cannot, under any circumstance, be made to understand justice. No matter the reason for the verdict, if one is convicted for a crime, the evil will always cry, “Foul!

On the other hand, even good people can unwittingly align themselves with evil men. Without knowing all the details, only being fed what the media wants to dish out, they can resort to aberrant behavior. I have seen this happen many times, and have even been on the receiving end of unwarranted righteous indignation. Whatever happened to hearing both sides? Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” Whatever happened to mercy?

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” – Micah 6:8 KJV

Whom Do We Seek?

When we seek our own, selfish desires – the ones that cause us to have the verdicts turn our way – our understanding can be darkened. It is only when we seek the Lord and let Him handle the situation that our eyes and hearts are open to better recognize true justice.

However, crazy as it may sound, for the believer and follower of God, the most outrageous verdicts handed down by the most insane judges are only lower court rulings yet to be tried by the Judge of the Ages. His judgment will be true, righteous, and clear enough for the vilest to understand.

In the meantime, the wise man will never forget these words: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).


Drip…Drip…Drip…

Proverbs 27:15-16

“A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.”
“A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands.” – NLT

Water Torture

Chinese water torture is a process where a person is strapped down and forced to endure a steady, continuous dripping of water on one’s forehead. I have never experienced it, but I’ve read that it’s pretty horrible.

mythbusters.jpg

mythbusters.jpg (Photo credit: LVCHEN)

As a matter of fact, a popular television program decided to put water torture to the test. MythBusters (seen on The Discovery Channel) convinced a couple of their people to allow themselves to be subjected to Chinese water torture, and the following is from their official website.

“The MythBusters racked and restrained Kari, then turned on a leaky faucet, while Adam endured the drip sitting upright and unrestrained. Throughout the process, both took psychological assessments to track their mental states.

After nearly two hours, Kari started to seriously crack and experienced claustrophobia and shoulder spasms. Adam sat through more than three hours of water torture, and while he wasn’t as shaken as Kari, the procedure proved uncomfortable.

In fact, the preliminary torture trials rattled the MythBusters enough that they called the experiment quits early. Even in a safe environment, the myth of Chinese water torture was deemed too plausible to risk complete confirmation.” *

It would seem, then, that a continual dropping would not be an easy thing to endure.

A Contentious Wife

I can only imagine the inestimable horror that Solomon must have endured. This man, despite his wisdom, took care of nearly 1,000 women (wives and concubines). Out of that number, there had to have been a few who would not stop nagging. He must have had to endure a lot of “rainy days.”

The problem with a contentious, quarrelsome, nagging wife is that she gradually, over time, wears a man down. And no matter what he does to try to console her, every effort is as worthless as grabbing something with greased hands.

All women, including my precious wife, have a unique, God-given ability with words. They know they have this power, too, and often use it to their advantage, especially when they are angry.

But the woman in this proverb is one who never gives her man a break; she’s always on his back about something. Sadly, the results are never what the woman wants. Usually, if the husband doesn’t simply lock himself away in the garage or out on the lake, he will end up leaving her for a woman who flatters his wounded ego.

Drip, Drip, Drip

I have never experienced Chinese water torture or a contentious, quarreling wife. However, I know how annoying a leaky faucet can be, especially when one’s trying to sleep. Drip…drip…drip…drip…drip…

Women, the best advice I can offer is to speak your peace, let your husband know your feelings, then turn it over to God. Then, men, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church, and give yourself for your wife. Mutual respect can go a long way toward avoiding the torture of a long, rainy day.

Source: http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/mythbusters-database/is-chinese-water-torture-effective.htm


Refreshing News

Proverbs 25:25

25 As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.

Tough Times

Nobody really likes war.

They are dangerous, costly in economically and physically, and it shows the violence and hatred within humanity.

As I write this, Syria has been in a major internal conflict, and chemical weapons may have played a role. Several countries have considered getting involved.

Fortunately, we heard recently that Russia is working with Syrian leaders to remove chemical weapons and perhaps ease tensions between the two sides.

While it is still playing out as of this moment, it is a relief to know we may not have to send our young men and women into danger and the Syrians may get a break from the bloodshed.

Refreshing Drink

If you have ever hiked a considerable distance in the heat, you appreciate a cold glass of water. As the verse today states, getting good news is like that, such as feeling the tension of a possible armed conflict and hearing it may have been averted. When your mind and body can relax after that much tension and adrenaline, it is so refreshing to drink in that kind of news.

May you do not need to imagine this, but imagine with me that you have lived a life full of troubles. You have had a string of bad relationship after bad relationship. You lost a loved one. Your finances never seem to meet all of your obligations and needs. You have been mistreated by loved ones. You struggle with trusting anybody.

You just want some rest and peace. You would love some water for your tired soul.

Jesus offers some good news. As He said to the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4 (NIV):

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Drinking of the Holy Spirit, God coming into us by believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sins, is only true refreshing we can get from the pain this world gives us.

As we trust Him, he fills our souls with Himself and releases and redeems our hurts and fears, giving us full rest. As He said elsewhere, 28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Lord Jesus, grant us Your peace and refresh our souls by Your Holy Spirit. Help us to trust You and to overcome our circumstances.


Unnecessary Pain

Proverbs 25:19

19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

Hiking the Trails

I enjoy going on hiking and camping trips. I find them relaxing and refreshing.

Those long walks and getting away from it can be a relief to a weary mind and soul. Making simple meals over a fire (or out of a bag) is such a joy.

However, if I were to slip and twist my ankle, my hike would be more of a bother than a time of relaxation.

If I in my slip I fell and broke my tooth, my meals would be a time of anxiety rather than of joy.

A “friend”

On one trip into the wilderness with a college group, we had been out hiking and camping for three days. We had a great time.

On the hike out, a couple of the hikers grew quite tired and had run out water. One of our friends, who had decided at the last minute to join our group, did not even slow down to help. When all but those two were at the meeting point for almost half an hour, we got worried. The one mentioned seeing them, and then he started walking on ahead toward the exit.

He did not help us locate our friends, and he did not seem interested in helping in any other way, either. All he managed was to cause unnecessary pain through more grief and tension!

The Golden Rule

Followers of Jesus are expected to help others, for we may in fact be helping Him increase His Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46).

What kind of friend are you?

If you see someone in need do you find out if you can help, or do you carry on your way with little thought about the matter?

Do bring relief or cause more pain?

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:9-12, NIV

Lord, help us to love as You love. Fill us with Your compassion and grace, that we may not cause unnecessary pain on others in their time of need. Help us to be Your faithful servants to this lost and hurting world.