Deuteronomy 25:1 “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.”
I grew up in the sixties where the rebellion of the youth of that day was widespread and challenged the norm of the day. One of the themes that started small but took hold was the ‘Question Authority’ movement. From the government’s forcing the draft to the Kent State University shootings; from Asbury Park to Woodstock – the youth of the day began to test all that their parents had set as boundaries in their life.
A common answer to my questioning why I had to do a certain thing was, “Because I said so…” Which became fine for a while, but amidst the question, was a genuine desire to know the reasoning behind it. Blind obedience is not always good. Look at Jim Jones and the massacre that happened in Johannesburg.
God’s judgment is always righteous and good. What He commands is worthy of our immediate obedience. Yet, part of our nature is to selfishly ask ‘Why?’ ‘Why should I tithe?’ ‘Why should I go to church every week?’ ‘Why should I live for Christ and spend my life doing something for Someone else and not for me?’ These are all good and right questions for sure and worthy of sound biblical answers.
My meditation this morning is more on the foundation than the specific answers to the questions.
Often, when we are called to obey our authority, we are given a choice. Obedience or disobedience. Submission or rebellion. We look at who it is that is giving the command and judge them worthy or unworthy of our obedience. Any and all of God’s commands should be followed just because of Who He is. If He is perfect, holy, and righteous, then He is worthy of every ounce of my obedience.
Man as our authority, poses a unique problem – what happens when they display their humanity in their decision making or just plain mess up? I must apply some basic principles. Man holds some positions given by God, for us to follow. 1 Timothy 3 begins to flesh out requirements for pastors and deacons in the church.
What happens when we disagree?
Our verse this morning comes to tell us that there must be judges over us to put the law into practice. The challenge comes when my spirit bristles at the judgment of my authority and it doesn’t seem to line up with my sense of justice. God’s Word has helped me understand what to do when I don’t.
First, I must have all the facts.
Deuteronomy 19:15 “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.”
Jesus even backed this up in the New Testament:
Matthew 18:16 “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”
The establishing of a matter means that the case is now open for investigation, not judgment. The gathering of facts in a court of law must be devoid of the emotion for or against of all involved to make a good and right judgment. We would do well to realize just where our opinions, prejudices and preferences lie to aid us in making the right decision.
Second, I must weigh out the facts in light of God’s Word.
Does it follow sound doctrine or am I creating a special case because of who is involved or how it might make me look in the end? I cannot take one single verse and hang my judgment on it – it must follow the continuity and consistency of God’s Word and His character.
I realize, as well, that there are a number of different paths for me to take:
Romans 12:19 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Ok, so vengeance belongs to God and I cannot and should not take it up in my heart. I’ve seen many a good person consumed by vengeance and ruin their life and others when they cannot get past this point.
John 5:30 “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
Again, when my hand touches something that belongs to God, it becomes corrupt. I must seek God’s judgment first, then I come face to face with a choice. Shall I choose His way or mine? If I am to follow in the steps of Christ, this verse should be all I need.
The exercise of mercy in my life and in the lives of others takes a heart submitted and committed to truly understand. A heart that remains offended and tries to give mercy will withhold forgiveness because they feel justice has not been satisfied. They think giving mercy is letting them off the hook for justice and even vengeance that has not fully been given over to God.
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Here is the practice of giving to others that which has been extended to us. The scales of our system of justice need to be balanced. We want mercy and forgiveness for us while holding to vengeance and justice for those that offend us.
The gauge of my selfishness can be measured in the amount of grace I show to others when I have truly been offended.
1 Peter 4:10 “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
This most wonderful gift that has been given us, must in turn be given away as freely as it came to us!
Often, we are so busy, pressed out of measure that we make hasty decisions in this area of judgment. As a child of God, I must begin my day preparing for the situations and circumstances that may present themselves throughout my day. Submitted, committed and surrendered to Almighty God will calm my heart, allow God’s Spirit to speak to my spirit and keep my emotions in check when the storm of that evil day comes upon me.
One person’s statement may very well turn out to be just gossip in the end when we use God’s method to vette it out. We too often, jump to conclusions until we finally hear the end of the matter and follow some biblical steps to make good and right judgments.
Happy Monday Everyone!