Wednesday, December 24, 2008

True Judgment

I came across a passage of Scripture in my One Year Bible that stopped me in my tracks.

It's from the Minor Prophet Zechariah Chapter 7 verses 9 and 10:

Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

There are many descriptions and names of God used in the Bible to reveal a different characteristic of God and His nature. The "Lord of hosts" or Yehovah/Yahweh Sabaoth is used to reveal God heading a host or an army.

When enemies of Israel come, the Lord of hosts is often the description used for God as He conquers enemies and delivers His people.

I found it remarkable, but not surprising, that God, who is a powerful, commander of the armies of heaven, tells us to execute true judgment by "showing mercy and compassions every man to his brother."

It never ceases to amaze me that God, who could squish me like a bug for very good reasons, chooses instead to show me mercy and compassions.

His greatest display of mercy and compassion of course being His Son Jesus dying of the cross for my sins. But I think it remarkable that He doesn't stop there.

He also provides His Spirit to live in me and change me/ conform me to His image.

In other words, He is making me like Him--merciful and compassionate.

Honestly, I don't always cooperate with the work. Mercy is often substituted for self-righteousness and compassion fades in the harsh glare of criticism.

I know that is my bend, my sin nature in the same way I know that God is faithful to complete the work He has begun in my life.

But as I read this passage today the part that pierced my heart the most was the end of verse 10:

and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

A little quiz for us today... Have you ever had a "fight" with someone in your mind/heart?

Have you ever failed to give someone the benefit of the doubt only to learn later that you read the situation/response/intention wrong?

Have you ever assumed that someone like your husband or sister or friend or child or the clerk at the store was being critical or judgmental only to find out you exhausted a significant amount of brain power and anguish over something that wasn't even real?

I have.

Also known as "mental gymnastics," I have wasted too much time and energy defending myself to myself in light of an imaginary enemy.

Perhaps that's why the Lord asks us to simply love Him, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love other people like ourselves.

If we are loving others, truly loving others, we can walk as simply as that preschooler who has been taught, "Treat others the way you want to be treated."

I have been misunderstood. I have had people explode in anger over something they thought I said or did.

It hurts.

And sadly, I misunderstand other people and assume that they think ill of me or other people.

I realized this morning that too much time is spent analyzing other peoples motives, actions, attitudes, words and silences. In other words, imagining evil against my brothers and sisters in my heart.

As we head into our Christmas celebrations, I want my focus, my heart to be on why Jesus came.

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,
but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:28

He came not to judge the world but to save it (John 12:47) and provides us the ability to fulfill His command...

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
John 15:12


Ann said...

Mental gymnastics...yep I think I am an Olympic contender in that category:) ehheheh

But the Lord is faithful to finish the good work and I am oh so willing!!!! Thanks for the reminder:)

It is nice to see ya on facebook

Lisa said...

These are great insights. I have been thinking about how we carry out justice by showing mercy- because Jesus already paid the penalty. It would be unjust to demand extra payment from those we encounter. Jesus' sacrifice is enough, it is finished. We don't need to demand anything from anyone. Cool thoughts...

Lainie said...

You are so right Lisa! Amen sista friend :)

Who are we indeed? Only servants to God on High who describes Himself as merciful, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness!

Kim (aka- Kanga-mom and sometimes Rabbit-mommy) said...

Ahh, thank you Miss Lainie. Well said, well timed. For me, this message was just exactly what I needed to read. I have been struggling so much with this issue the past few days, and I was literally praying to God today asking for forgiveness and for Him to shut my brain off and stop these negative, rather paranoid thoughts from rampaging through my brain. God heard my prayer and sent you to write this message.

Merry Christmas Lainie-pants.

"the short one" said...

thanks. yeah. -crystal

oh wait. Merry Christmas!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mom!


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