11/26/2014

Important Aspects of the Law


"For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things." Matthew 23:23


Justice. The balance of God's Universe. Payment for wrong. I'm reminded of a certain modern television character saying, "All magic comes with a price!" In the series, each conjuring of fairy-tale spell is complete with negative consequences. I like the idea that manipulating the delicate system of "fate" is always counteracted by an inevitable balancing. Now, I thoroughly believe that anyone foolish enough to toy with the powers of darkness will see horrible effects on their own soul. But anyone who sows the pure and selfless acts of sacrifice for the greater good will also reap benefits that God has built into His world, whether they acknowledge Him or not. And then there's...

Mercy. It makes concessions. It comes in after justice has been rendered, and not a moment before. Mercy does not abolish justice, it is the fulfillment of justice. Mercy is God coming down to pay the price that justice requires. Mercy walks with justice like love walks with the law. I've heard it said (and have even quoted it myself) that you cannot have both justice and mercy. That's incorrect. God does not stop being just simply because He is also choosing to be merciful. We should not lose our sense of justice when we choose to have compassion. Imagine if we did that with our kids, "Yes, dear, I know he hit you in the face but I need you to choose mercy over justice and turn the other cheek. Go ahead, son, hit her again." WHAT?! That would create a world of hurt and abuse. Justice and mercy must walk together. "Son, I love you, so I cannot allow you to go without discipline for your actions. The consequences will help you understand how to walk in self-control so you can treat people the way you'd like to be treated." Afterward there would be an opportunity for mercy which operates within forgiveness. If there's no forgiveness and reinstatement, then the discipline was worthless in that case. If he never receives the mercy of forgiveness then he will never have the chance to use what he's learned from his mistake. But there are so many variables, even to that one example. What if she punched him first? There's always more to address and so much more to learn in any mistake. Which brings me to...

Faith. The gift that allows us to see beyond the obvious in any situation. What may look like justice or mercy to our fallen eyes, is only truly justice and mercy when it is God's just and mercy. Perverted "justice" could be people getting what I believe they deserve. Twisted "mercy" might be martyring morality on the altar of someone's feelings and strong opinions. How can we trust a heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked? Only God can unlock the mystery of what lies behind the surface of every case. Only God can offer us the fruit of the Tree of Life that must always be eaten in obedience. When our eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil, we became self-conscious and self-focused. Suddenly our sense of justice was telling us we were naked and therefore should be ashamed at our indiscretion. "Who told you that your were naked?" God asked. The evidence of our focus being on anything else but God is that we see ourselves. Oswald Chambers suggests this, "Man’s relationship with God in the beginning was such that the consciousness of union with Him was a delight: as soon as sin entered, that went and man became self-conscious: he realized he was no longer in union with God and tried to hide himself from His presence." (from Biblical Ethics)

I once believed that the three: justice, mercy, and faith were unrelated. But now I see that they are so intricately vital to one another that to have one without both the others is a huge mistake for any person. By walking in the Spirit I can be sure that I'll walk in these three important aspects of God's beautiful law. "Genius!" doesn't begin to express my praise to His omniscient perfection. His design is flawless.