All In The Name of Justice….or is it?

It is so easy to caught up and held up in the whole what is right and what is wrong.  I find myself there much too often.  After all we do have laws!  So how is it that someone can break the law and get away with it without someone crying for justice?  Especially if you yourself had rightfully (morally) and maybe even legally wronged?

I have personally fell in this trap with my boys father owing child support.  He owes over $100K in child support.  There has been no enforcement despite the laws that allow them to do so.  His family enables his crimes against us with full knowledge that the oldest is totally disabled and will never be self sustaining.  It is legally and morally WRONG.  We never asked for this.  A dear family member of mine, blind sided by divorce.  He comes home and is told in a nut shell “I have been wanting to leave lady_justice_by_sadthree-d35nicpfor over a year, sign this and I won’t keep MY kids from you.  You are to move out and leave everything…”  He never saw it coming.  It is straight up morally WRONG.  He never asked for this.  My mother living on SS had her car breakdown.  Not wanting to tow it out of town takes it to the mechanic nearest by.  He quotes her, promises to fix it.  She being on a fixed income trickles payments to him.  9 months later, $900 lost, he is gone (evicted out of his shop), car is in pieces, not even any new parts purchased.  He is not worth suing.  She is out a car and $900 that is nearly impossible to replace.  It is legally and morally WRONG.  She never asked for this.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to live in this world and not have the opportunity to be offended.  It is not a matter of if it will happen but when and how often.  Our response determines our future.  So how do we respond?  If you anything like me where thinking for the most part is very black and white, where wrong is wrong and right is right, then you will become ensnared as a “justice seeker”.  Or others have seen have fallen trap to pride.  Ever heard the wounded say “…I’m okay” or “…I will be fine”.  They deny that just how deeply they have been wounded and ultimately never deal with it, that pain roots into bitterness, anger/rage even, and resentment.  All of which can lead to an even worse condition of hardheartedness, insensitivity, ultimately hindering you from hearing God’s voice.  This condition will set you up to be lead into total deception.  Just because you were mistreated does not put you in the right to hold onto the offense.  Two wrongs never equal a right.  An offense not dealt with properly simply leads us away from the heart of God, and ultimately we produce the fruits of sin.

So if we acknowledge this, then it feels as if we are unable to do anything in response to the offense.  I have many times turned to God and asked, “Don’t you have my back?”  “Do you not see?”  “How can they just get away with this?” God almost seems to turn a blind eye.  We feel ignored or abandoned (here is the start of the deception!).  Straight up:  Present, immediate justice is not God’s agenda.  As my pastor told me regarding this subject:

How can you love your enemies if you want them to fry. 

YIKES.  Okay I get it, this is not new….the whole we must love our enemies command gets me more often then I would like to admit (could that be a dose of  pride?).

24 The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach,and patient, 25 instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. 26 Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.  2Tim 2:24-26 HCSB

“…gentle to EVERYONE….”  It does not say to those whom are nice to us.  His will is ultimately to bring them into repentance and knowledge of Him and His Word to EVERYONE.  That won’t happen if their feet are held over coals.

Remember the Lord uses ALL things to work towards the good for those that love Him (Rm 8:28).  Many times the worst of the worst offenses refine us.  Let me explain:  The refining process (when speaking of gold) causes the impurities to come to the top or surface if you will.  They can then be removed (dealt with).  An issue with forgiveness, anger, faith, or any other sin can not be dealt with if not brought to the surface.  You will come out on top if you handle it God’s way.  It is no mistake that the root of the word offense is the Greek skan-dal-id’-zo:  to entice to sin to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, become ensnared or tangled, metaph. to offend.  In other words for one to offend you, you are being caused to sin.  Do not fall into this trap!

No where does God promise immediate judgement for wrongs.  He does not play games of tit-for-tat.  However, God does promise ultimate justice upon His return.

It is a clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, since it is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 2Thes 1:5-8 HCSB

He will have vengeance on those who do not obey, and those who refuse to know Him.  But He honestly wishes for ALL to be save, for ALL to come to know him.  To be in alignment with the Lord means we must demonstrate HIS love.  We can not do that and be “justice seekers”.

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Forgetting is not Forgiving

If you have been a Christian or been around Christians for very long it would have become apparent that forgiveness is a fundamental attribute.  More so, it’s a very clear command (Luke 6:27-36).  But what does real, heartfelt forgiveness look like?  I think this is where we, I have gotten it wrong for so many years.  This is how a Christian, myself, a believer for 2 decades got it wrong.

I have heard many many messages on forgiveness.  After all if you do not forgive those that have preaching (1)done wrong, how is it you can expect your Father in heaven to forgive you (Matt 6:14,15)?  We must love our enemies, and not repay evil with evil.

But what does this look like in real life?  You know, life behind our front door-in our homes- or every day happenings, like holiday dinners with family?  What does it look like when we know what was done is absolutely wrong and we have the need to see justice?  After all it’s clear wrong is wrong, and right is right.  If there is a law it should be kept, right?  A father that abandons his children and owes more then can ever be paid in support should be in jail because the law says so, right?  An ex that slanders out of hurt and hate should be made to pay, after all we have the right to sue, to punish if you will, right?  When your disabled son is told he is evil and has demons out of ignorance, that church should pay for the hurt he will feel for the rest of his life, right?  The mother that forces her children to live in filth, to live in fear of police, to live so isolated, to live in fear under her constant threat of suicide, she should face consequences, right?

Fact is if we hold others to the law, we ought to be held to the law as well.  That does not mean that we never report abuses, it does not mean that criminals should not be held accountable in the court of law.  That is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about in our own hearts, minds, and actions.  There are agencies that have been given the duty to pursue injustices.  Even if they are not doing their job, it is not OUR job to seek justice.  This was personally one of the toughest ones justicefor me to digest.  Forgiveness has NOTHING to do with justice.  In fact in order to love your enemies it is the exact opposite action as seeking the justice WE see fit.  You can not do both.  Justice is not up to us.  It is not our fight to fight.  If we are wrapped up in earthly battles, God can not use us for His heavenly purpose.  This is why justice is up to Him and those in authority to do so — without us.  If we do not trust Him in regards to justice then we are not living a life with him as Lord. ~~Ouch~~

Forgetting does not equate forgiveness.  We can not simply push down, ignore, or forget the wrongs.  We can not simply act as if it never happened and call it forgiveness.  Forgiveness must be received by the offender in order for it to be legit.  How can they receive your denial?  They can not.  Forgiveness is not hinged upon an apology.  It has nothing to do with the offender accepting your forgiveness, or apologizing so that you can move on.  Forgiveness is not a duty or a chore.  Forgiveness is a gift, therefore nothing in return should be expected. 

We can not just be courteous or polite.  We can not just duck and cover from the flaming arrows aimed at our heads and loved ones by crazed ex’s.  We can not just be gracious with our words when speaking of those that have hurt us oh so deeply.  This is not forgiveness.  This is exactly how one can be a Christian for many years and yet not grasp the concept of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not kindness or the exercise of good manners.

“…Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you….”  (Luke 6:28) Bless them?  Do you realize what this means?  Well, I looked it up, let me tell you.  “To bless” means “to confer or invoke divine favor upon”.  Crap!  “Invoke divine favor”!?  That means we can not just erase the bad memories, be nice to those that are mean, bad, wrong, whatever and move on.  “Invoke”…do you know what that means?  Well, I looked that up too.  It can be taken two ways in this case:  “To make an EARNEST request for” or “To put into effect or operation”.

So putting this all together what this means is that rather then continuing the pursuit for jail time for that father that abandoned his children, I need to make an earnest request that God bring him favor.  Taking that farther, if the Lord provides me with a way….anyway to bring him favor, I must do so.  After all as my Pastor put it today….if he needed a shower and he goes and read about it but then did nothing what good was it unless he takes action and actually takes the shower he read about.

If I were to say that I was thrilled to find out that all these years of being “nice” wasn’t good enough and now I have an ever growing list of people to bless would be sarcastic.  So would you think that God just would leave it at that, oh no.  He took  it further with me today.

REJOICE!  We are to rejoice in the Lord.  So now I am supposed to be happy about it?  No, that is not what this is about.  It’s about remembering that if we are going to say Jesus is Lord of our lives we must believe it in our hearts (Ro 10:9).  He is sovereign and has total right to take all the negative junk (I actually have another word for it but it probably isn’t so appropriate) in our lives and use it as He see’s fit.  It will be for our good, you can be guaranteed of that (Ro 8:28)!

So while I am still not “thrilled”, I can rejoice….I can truly forgive….and it is time to bless.  Because if I don’t then this was all for nothing.  Sprout-in-barren-land