Thursday, July 17, 2008


"He who gives me justice is near. Who will dare to oppose me now? Where are my enemies? Let them appear!" --Isaiah 50:8 NLT

Justice is a tricky thing, I've learned. There are many types of justice, but only one has eternal consequence--God's justice. And I have also learned that it is nearly impossible for me to grasp even a jot of what that is. Here is what we call justice:

jus*tice: n. 1. the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.
2. rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain with justice.
3. the moral principle determining just conduct.
4. conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct, dealing, or treatment.
5. the administering of deserved punishment or reward.
6.the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial or other proceedings: a court of justice.
7. judgment of persons or causes by judicial process: to administer justice in a community.
8. a judicial officer; a judge or magistrate.
The definition that applies to this verse, this promise from God is most likely the administering of deserved punishment or reward. And we are pretty certain as Christians that we know exactly what the punishments and rewards should be.
All too often, the church today is ready to throw accusations at leaders, at its members, its community. We are quick to point out the reasons others have failed and how they should be punished. We are also quick to point out how we have not tripped over the same issue and to expect some reward for being "good".
I have learned that what I believe is deserving of punishment is not always what God sees and punishes. At least not in my timing. I am reminded of a woman who continues to scheme ways of keeping her ex-husband from seeing their children. To me, it would seem appropriate for God to cast some punishment upon her NOW so that the children are able to build a relationship with their father. I mean, that would seem to line up with God's will, that a child be able to grow a relationship with their father, right?
But this is one of those places where my sense of justice doesn't match up entirely with God's. Perhaps it isn't that my sense is off, perhaps it's just the timing. ("Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." --Rom. 12:19 KJV)
Or what about the teacher who ridicules a kindergartener with special needs in front of his peers? And yet the school district does not remove the teacher from the classroom until further investigations can be completed. How is that fair? Why is that not punished?
Two things are laid upon my heart as I read this verse from Isaiah:
1. God protects me from unfair accusations and punishments.
2. God has given me grace at the cross of Jesus so that I don't have to face the just punishments that I deserve.
Both of those things are pretty powerful to me. I am protected from my enemies would unfairly accuse or try to punish me. I may never hear those accusations. They have been thwarted and muted by my Father. And because of that, I never have to face unfair punishment. I have nothing to fear! Also, I am protected from the punishments that I should receive (death) for my sins because of God's great love for me.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever beleiveth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." --John 3:16 KJV
Father, what a wonderful promise and gift you have given me. Even while I look at others and "judge" what they have done and try to assign blame and punishment, you protect me from unfair accusations and punishments. If that weren't amazing enough on its own, you also have paid the price, served the punishment of punishments on the cross so that I would not have to. I am not worthy of such love. And of course, that is what makes it grace. Thank you, Father, for loving and wanting me so much. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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