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Archive for the ‘justice’ Category

 

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe (Psalm 4:8).”

It’s hard sleeping this time of year. I live in a Nordic country which is currently experiencing “white nights”.

One former colleague posted the sunrise and sunset times in her hometown above the Arctic Circle on Facebook yesterday. There was about 45 minutes in between these events.

In my location farther south it isn’t as bright,but it’s close. The sun officially sets between 22:00 and 23:00 and rises again about 3:30 am. In between is twilight and perhaps about 45 minuted of darkness.

It’s hard enough to sleep in this kind of environment unless you have good curtains or eyepatches. But it’s even worse when your heart is troubled.

I will be unemployed in about three weeks and I am looking for work. Having to write and talk about myself so much to strangers, especially professional ones, is nerve wracking.

Although I have a lot of strengths on a professional level, I haven’t been perfect. In fact, my recent history includes a failed work experience.

 There are all kinds of details I will leave out here. Also, I do not intend to use this space to argue my case or assign blame. Let’s just say that things did not end well.

This makes it difficult when I go to apply for similar jobs as the one I had. When they ask to speak to my supervisor at this place of employment, I inwardly cringe.

I have no choice but to give them a name. I then know that my prospects with the employer I am currently talking with aren’t good.

 So, there’s a lot of stress right now. I really don’t care what time it is because I just sleep when I feel like it. (As an educator my schedule is pretty flexible in the summer.)

It’s easy in my situation to beat myself up over this whole thing.  People have expectations and sometimes you don’t meet them.

Author and pastor Bill Merritt tells of his own experience where he almost lost his job. He notes that talent isn’t enough anymore.

Merritt says that people want you to actually be able  to relate to them. They want you to ask questions and be interested. They want you to be nice.

“Imagine that!”, he writes.

“Nice” was not always my forte on the job I left badly. I think I did an excellent job there, but I could have handled relationships better. As a result there is an irreparable rupture between me and this company.

My apology was not accepted. Subsequent correspondence to this organization has gone unanswered. 

I’ve improved some since then. However, as noted above joblessness is hovering and I don’t have much going on, and this failure hangs around and occasionally surfaces. 

It is hard to recover from personal failure. This is true in the workplace and at home both.

When you fail people don’t trust you. They get mad at you.  Not only that, you get mad at them, especially if you feel as if your treatment is unjust.

You lose fellowship and friendship. What to do?

Well, as a Christian I know that it’s not a good idea to quit on God.  If I stick with Him, He will stick with me. 

However, if I abandon God, He will abandon me. It’s my choice (II Chronicles 15:2).

I noted above that when there is a relational fracture in the workplace that the parties get mad. I notice that God tends to get mad when people don’t treat Him with respect, too.

The Psalmist tells leaders that they had better submit to Jesus, or else!  Destruction is on the way when our Lord is ignored, rejected or rebelled against (Psalm 2:10-12).

The Psalmist says that God is an honest judge. He gets angry at the wicked every day and takes action against them (Psalm 7:11-13).

So, what’s my part?  Well the Psalmist tells ME if I want to sleep at night that I should:

-submit to Jesus myself (Psalm 2:12b);

-control my 0wn anger and trust God (Psalm 4:4,5);

-pray for God’s active protection and action against my enemies (Psalm 3:1-4,7);

-ask God to take care of my reputation (Psalm 4:2,3);

-ask God to rescúe me from the mess in my heart and out there in the world (Psalm 6:1-10).

This last point is especially  profound. Until last night I thought of God as someone who would come in like the calvary to perform his rescue. I didn’t see Him as someone who stuck around the garbage dump I’ve created in my heart and life.

However, it occurred to me yesterday evening that Jesus is down there with me in the junkyard. He is there waiting patiently for me to acknowledge Him while I sit in the stench.

This thought reminded me of an old booklet from my youth. Robert Munger wrote a short story called My Heart Christ’s Home which was popular at the time.

In this piece Jesus is invited into a man’s home. Room by room he begins to set the man’s house in order.

Eventually, the man realizes he can’t keep his house clean and asks Jesus to do it. However, Jesus tells the man that He has no authority there: He is just a guest.

The man turns the deed of the house over to Jesus. From then on, the man is just the servant in the house and Jesus is master.

I learned last night that Jesus is not content to stay on the outskirts of our lives. I had forgotten this and didn’t think He wanted to be down there in the muck with me, but He does.

Yet, the Psalmist says He does. He wrote,”For you look deep within the mind and heart, O righteous God”. (Psalm 7:9)

When we give over ownership to Jesus, we can sleep soundly. David found this out. He wrote:

I lay down and slept,
    yet I woke up in safety,
    for the Lord was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
    who surround me on every side (Psalm 3:5,6)

When Jesus enters the trash heap, it is not His intention to let it stay messy. He intends to clean it up, if I let Him.

If I do, I think I will sleep better despite the white nights. I will have the assurance and peace that He is there to take care of my messy heart and the rest of my trashy life out there.

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The Lord is compassionate and merciful,  slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins;  he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve (Psalm 103:8-10).

Motivational speaker David G. Johnson notes that if you want to find your calling, it’s a good idea to ask yourself some questions:

1) What would I do even if I didn’t get paid or receive applause?

2) What problem do I feel compelled to solve for people?

3) What makes you mad?

I pondered that last question in the last 24 hours or so, when I wasn’t sleeping that is. I think I figured it out.

What makes me mad is injustice. I see a lot of it around these days.

When I probe deeper into my heart, though, I find an annoying truth. What makes me mad is when I or one of my loved ones get treated unjustly.

Do I get angry when I hear or read about somebody else receiving unfair treatment? The honest answer is probably,”Sometimes I guess. But not as much as when the experience involves me.”

Rage at my own unfair treatment has gotten me into trouble in the past. I’m not so sure trying to bail myself out of unjust situations is exactly what God had in mine when He gave me a “calling”.

Johnson does say that whatever our calling is, it involves serving people. So if I can figure out where I get really teed off when other folks are handled poorly, I may go a long way in discovering where to invest the rest of my life vocationally.

Injustice is nothing new, of course. If you read the media you would think it is, though.

The news is full of one injustice after another. Here’s a sample of today’s headlines:

“Blind Chinese activist says he’s been abandoned by American officials…”

“12 teenagers haul teenagers off of train by hair, steal cell phone”

“Computer glitch summons 1,200 residents to jury duty, causes traffic jam”.

It’s a fallen world, especially in politics.

If the current POTUS is not of your party, you have your eye on him. You are just waiting for him to assume dictatorial powers and institute a police state.

Interestingly enough, some folks in my birth state of Maryland felt that way about Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. As a border state, Maryland was subject to a lot of intense scrutiny from the US government and the military.

According to Charles W. Mitchell, who edited a book called “Maryland Voices of the Civil War”, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus for Marylanders in some cases.

The writ of habeas corpus is the longstanding right in the English legal system, passed down to Americans, in which an accused person is required to be brought before a judge by the arresting  party. The latter must show cause before the court as to why the person has been arrested.

The writ of habeas corpus is a foundation of the American legal system. It prevents unlawful detention of our citizens.

From Mitchell’s account, a lot of people in Maryland were held without charge, at least at the beginning of the Civil War. Mitchell produces one written account by one such man, Augustus R. Sollers. He begins:

“My arrest was a simple outrage only to be excused upon the ground of over zeal in th officer who ordered it”. Sollers goes on to describe the charges against him as “fabrications” and defends himself.

Furthermore, he goes into detail as to how he has suffered at the hands of the military when they tried to arrest him previously:

I was driven from my home, family and business and lived in the woods for weeks.  They visited my house the night of their arrival and searched for me; they placed a guard of 150 men around it.; they killed my hogs, sheep, poultry, and wantonly shot the best horse on the farm, for all I was never offered a cent nor have I received a cent.”

In his letter, Sollers insists he is a loyal citizen of the United States, but decries how much is fealty has gotten him:

“For all this I have incurred the displeasure of some of my best friends and looked upon with suspicion and distrust by many others. But for my loyalty I have received nothing  but persecution. I have been driven from home, my property destroyed, ny family harassed and insulted, and finally arrested.”

Imagine the cable news networks of our time. They’d have a field day with Sollers’ story.

If you are a dedicated Christian, you know full well how Jesus Christ suffered far worse treatment at the hands of the authorities of his time. Yet, he voluntarily submitted Himself to it.

The Scriptures say of Jesus:

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature  of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death —
        even death on a cross! (Phillippians 2:5-8)

Indeed, on that cross, as he was being crucified with others who DID deserve the punishment,  Jesus asked God for leniency  concerning those responsible. Luke recorded his words:

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34a)

Pastor Erwin Lutzer tells of  a discussion he had with another minister about David Berkowitz, aka Son of Sam. Those of us around in the 1970s remember the hot summer he went around shooting numerous people  to death in New York City.

This pastor told Lutzer that Berkowitz is a saved man today, deeply regretting his actions, not asking for any parole, and leading Bible studies in prison. He is transformed according to this pastor.

However, when the pastor tried to get a Christian publisher to consider putting out Berkowitz’s story, he received resistance. The publisher said,

“Yeah, but do you know for sure he’s saved. You get weary of all these people being converted in prison. Prison’s a nice place to get converted, right?”

The pastor countered with this:

“I know Son of Sam–I know that he’s saved. But I am worried about you.” 

I wonder what the loved ones of Son of Sam would think about this discussion. I would surmise many of them would be as skeptical as this Christian publisher and still demand every ounce in payment for the injustice done.

The work of Jesus, who was “pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins”  and “beaten” and “whipped” so we could be healed (Isaiah 53:5), shows God’s attitude toward injustice.  He took it upon Himself so that He could be merciful to those who were responsible for it.

So sure, I ought to be upset when there’s injustice and do what I can, at least for others, when it is perpetrated.  God hates injustice so much His Son died for it.

Yet, if I am to be like Him I need to slow down and be patient with some people. I might even attempt to show  them the error of their ways in a kind and gentle way.

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“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.  Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.  They rejoice in your name all day long;  they celebrate your righteousness (Psalm 89:14-16).”

Jimmy McNulty can’t win for losing. He’s a loser at office politics.

Jimmy is a fictional detective in the TV show called “The Wire”. He’s something of a rebel, at least to his superiors in the Baltimore Police Department.

Jimmy doesn’t really mean to get his bosses mad at him. He just wants to be a good cop. However, all he does is get himself into trouble and get himself isolated.

The “fun” begins when McNulty attends the murder trial of DeAngelo Barksdale, a member of a drug running family. When a witness backs off her story and DeAngelo is freed, McNulty is there.

McNulty understands that the body count in the section of Baltimore where the Barksdales operate is due to their brutal methods. In a visit to an old friend, a powerful city judge, he brings this up in conversation.

The next thing you know, McNulty is being called on the carpet for insubordination. The judge has made a phone call to the detective’s boss.

When a witness who actually did testify in DeAngelo’s trial is murdered after the verdict, things get even worse for McNulty. He suggests to his fellow detective that the murder was probably done by the Barksdales as payback. When the story is spun that way and published on the front page of the Baltimore newspaper, McNulty gets the blame, although he has not talked to a reporter.

Afterwards, his superior officer walks into the cubicle area of the office looking for McNulty and when he finds he isn’t there, takes his hand and clears a bunch of stuff off his desk. When he learns from the sergeant manning the office that the desk he has just mutilated belongs to another officer, the boss turns around and walks away in exasperation.

McNulty’s problem is that he just doesn’t trust his bosses, and with good reason.  They are the types who will cover their own behinds and are motivated more by politics than doing the right thing. When McNulty does try to do the right thing, he is slapped down.

Furthermore, his superiors seem clueless. McNulty is a detective, which means he does his homework. However, his bosses just don’t want to make waves and ignore the problems in their department and in the city of Baltimore, to the detriment of both.

Caught in the middle between the big bosses and McNulty is Lt. Cedric Daniels. When the police heads have to address the murdered witness issue because of the headlines, they put him in charge of a sham unit assigned to investigate.

The section by design is loaded with incompetents and do nothings. Only McNulty and another female detective are capable.

When Daniels complains to his wife about the case, she advises him to “get out of it”.  Her husband asks her how he could do that, and she replies. “I don’t know, but you cannot lose if you do not play.”

She summarizes Daniels situation for him. She tells him that if he pushes to hard and things go wrong, he will get the blame. On the other hand, if he does nothing, he will get the blame for that, too.

She reminds him that he is investigating a case his bosses do not want. They have given him bad people to sabotage him. “You cannot lose if you do not play”, she reiterates.

The choices are not good when you are dealing with poor supervision. You can either demand to be heard or do nothing, but in either case you are left  alone and hung out  to dry when your bosses are corrupt.

 The Bible has a story that shows what can happen when those in charge actually do get behind their subordinates. It involves King David and some of his ambassadors.

In the episode, recorded in II Samuel 10, David decides to honor an ally by sending emissaries to their king’s funeral. He has had a good relationship with this man, the leader of the Ammonites.

However, the dead monarch’s son isn’t so friendly. On the suggestion of his advisors, he is suspicious of David and humiliates his ambassadors, cutting off their clothes at the buttocks and shaving off half their beards. (A full face of hair is the sign of a man in the Middle East.)

Imagine yourself in the place of these ambassadors. Most of us, given our experiences with today’s employers, would have probably expected David to ignore the whole situation.

However, this is not what happened.  David told the men to lay low until their beards grew back, thus showing them respect. Then, he began a war against the Ammonites, which he won in a mighty fashion. He brought everything to bear against the opponent  (II Samuel 10:1-19).

David sent a message to those who thought they could get by with double dealing and chicanery. After their defeat, these people were afraid to mess with David and his people in the future (II Samuel 10:19).

We shouldn’t be surpised at today’s workplace. The source of all the chaos comes from one source. Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones wrote some lyrics which describe him:

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul and faith

And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game.

So who is this person who makes people like our bosses walk away from our troubles? What is his name and what is his game? Jagger later tells us:

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint.

Behind all the messiness at our jobs is the devil himself. Ironically, the song “Sympathy for the Devi”l caught hell from “good” people when it was released. However, Stones guitarist Keith Richards explained its true meaning in 2002:

“Sympathy is quite an uplifting song. It’s just a matter of looking the Devil in the face. He’s there all the time. I’ve had very close contact with Lucifer – I’ve met him several times. Evil – people tend to bury it and hope it sorts itself out and doesn’t rear its ugly head. Sympathy for the Devil is just as appropriate now, with 9/11. There it is again, big time. When that song was written, it was a time of turmoil. It was the first sort of international chaos since World War II. And confusion is not the ally of peace and love. You want to think the world is perfect. Everybody gets sucked into that. And as America has found out to its dismay, you can’t hide. You might as well accept the fact that evil is there and deal with it any way you can. Sympathy for the Devil is a song that says, Don’t forget him. If you confront him, then he’s out of a job.” (Songfacts.com)

The problem in today’s office is that employers refuse to follow Richards’ advice and confront evil. They’d rather wash their hands of it like Pontius Pilate. In that respect, Jagger is correct when he says that “Sympathy for the Devil” is also about the darkness of man.

If the boss won’t do it, I suppose it’s still up to us, if we are followers of God.  It’s our task to look Satan in the eye and take him out in our places of work.

If our employer isn’t on the side of good, we still have an ally walking the halls of work with us. That would be Jesus Christ, the Son of David and the Son of God.

Like His ancestor and His Father, when we cry out to Him over the injustices in our offices, He cares. Also like David, Jesus will do something about them, even if our bosses won’t!

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” ‘When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?’  The LORD is in his holy temple;  the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth;  his eyes examine them.  The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. 
On the wicked he will rain  fiery coals and burning sulfur;  a scorching wind will be their lot. For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face (Psalm 11:3-7).”

Bobby Hattaway is a Civil War hero who returns home in triumph. Unfortunately, a boyhood friend has gone bad while he was away and turned their town upside down.

In the made-for- TV movie “Lone Rider”, Stu Croaker is Cain to Bobby’s Abel. Bobby is respected, while Stu is feared.

Stu is a swindler who cheats and murders to get what he wants, which is control of all the land and businesses in town.  He is on his way to gaining his desires when Bobby rides in.

At the point of  Bobby’s return, Stu is about to put Bobby’s father out of his mercantile business and take over the Hattaway family farm. Bobby’s father took a loan from Stu, whom he thought he could trust, and is now unable to pay it because business is bad.

The reason for the bad business  is that Stu has had his ruffians steal the Hattaway’s  supplies time and again before they get to town. There is nothing on the shelves to sell.

Bobby tries to act honorably and pays off what his father owes to Stu. However, this is only a short term solution. Stu wants what he wants.

He tells his thugs to turn up the heat on the Hattaways. The first victim is cousin Curtis, who is beat up when his suppy wagon is attacked, and roughed up again when he goes into the saloon (owned by Croker) for a beer.

The final straw for Bobby, however, is when his father is murdered in his store late at night. His Dad tells him as he dies that Stu shot him in the back. Bobby weeps as his father passes.

Now, it’s war.

Stu’s problem is that he wants to be Bobby, but he doesn’t have it in him. He even went as far as marrying Bobby’s old flame while Bobby was off fighting, but unlike his friend in the old days, he treats her like dirt.

Stu isn’t respectable, but he tries to gain it the only way he knows how–through evil methods. When his wife returns from the funeral of Bobby’s father, and Stu learns where she has been, she explains that she went because the Hattaway’s deserve respect, even though they themselves are bad people.

You would think perhaps Stu would get the message. However, all his wife’s statement does is enrage him.

He decides it is time to take Bobby out. However, Bobby is not one to run from a fight. After making sure his mother and newfound love are safely out of harm’s way, he plans the final confrontation with Stu. 

In the end, in a reversal of the Cain and Abel story, it is Stu who loses his life. Bobby, who road into town alone, gains the support of his old army buddy and even the sheriff, who seemed to be in Stu’s pocket up to then.

Bobby lives happily ever after. He marries his sweetheart, the business thrives and he even becomes the new sherriff.

Bobby isn’t the only Lone Rider around. The Bible has its own. His name was David.

David was a war hero like Bobby. However, he gained an adversary in King Saul, who previously was almost like a father to him.

David had to run from Saul, and grieved over his situation with his best friend, who just happened to be Jonathan, the king’s son (I Samuel 2o:1-42). David had to flee and lost the companionship and support of his buddy in the doing. He was truly alone.

While running, David stopped to get some provisions and a weapon from a priest. Then, when he tried to seek refuge with the Philistines, his country’s enemies, he ran again out of fear when he got the sense that their king was opposed to him being around.

At this time, David was scared and grieving. However, he didn’t remain in that state.

Like Bobby Hattaway, David began to take responsibility for what was happening around him. He sent his loved ones out of harm’s way and gathered around him men who had also been harmed by Saul.

When he learned that the family of the priest whom he had visited while running had been murdered, he saw himself as accountable to them. David acknowledged his careless disregard for the fate of the priests.

He had seen one of Saul’s men at the home of the priest when he went there and thought that perhaps the man might tell his boss.  Yet, David was shortsighted and didn’t follow through to do something about it.

When the priests and their families were murdered, David tried to make amends. He brought the lone surviving son of the priest he had visited under his protection. (See I Samuel 22:1-23 for the story of David’s acceptance of his duty to those impacted by his plight ).

It is true when life becomes hard, it’s a necessary thing to grieve.  In fact, it is one of  the recovery principles for those who have  brought their troubles on themselves.

In addition to grieving, though, we ought to develop our sense of responsibility for our lives and the fate of those close to us. The grief eventually has to turn into positive action away from the confusion.

The required step forward is to do the things necessary to turn the chaos in our lives around and do the same for our loved ones.  This move toward health is obligatory, especially if we have been the direct cause of  the disorder in the lives of others, but even if we haven’t.

Maybe like Bobby Hattawaywe are honorable people for whom life has just dones its worst. On the other hand, we may have been similar to Stu Croker and out of corrupt hearts done dirt to ourselves and others.

In any case, it’s our duty to change things. However, we can’t do it on our own.

At the end of  movie, one of the townspeople remarks to Bobby, who is walking on the arm of his new bride,”There his is, the ‘Lo-o-o-ne Rider’.”

Bobby replies,”Used to be. Used to be. Not anymore”. Bobby had friends and loved ones in his corner now.

Coming out of the hell we have made for ourselves or have had made for us, we can’t be a lone rider. We need others. More than anyone, we especially need God.

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“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head’  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).”

Lately, when I think about my nation’s government, I have had some questions for our leaders. Here are a few.

Have you been fair incurring trillions of dollars in debt, passing this on to future generations and still spending like there is no tomorrow (which at this rate, there may not be), while the rest of us have to pay our bills.

Have you been fair when you pay yourselves high wages and take exotic  vacations in the guise of exploratory junkets while a great many people in our country are suffering from economic woes?

Have you been fair when you as reprentatives shield yourselves from the same laws the rest of us have to abide by?

I not only take issue with our federal leaders these days, but also have no warm feelings for local government.  On a personal level, I chafed recently under a traffic ticket which cost me a lot of money. Did I deserve it?

The answer is “yes” according to a strict interpretation of the law.  Without going into the details, however, let me just say I believe that if common sense and fairness had ruled the day I went down that little road, I would have never even been pulled over.

This kind of thing  makes it difficult to trust your local police.  When I see a local officer pull someone over these days, I am wondering if they are just under orders to line the coffers of the town government in tough economic times.

The amount of unfairness in this world is as great as my country’s national debt. It is unimaginably huge.

How fair was the story of the  dead little girl which the media has sensationalized recently. The news people tell us she lost her life either due to the selfishness of her mother or the carelessness of her extended family.

How fair is it to the victims that millions upon millions of unborn children have not seen the light of day since the 1970s? At that time, the Supreme Court of our land ruled abortion legal.

 Furthermore, how fair is it to those people who have had alcoholic or rageaholic parents, cheating spouses or chronically sick children. I could write reams more about the injustice in the world.

The Bible tells the story of a family that got the short end of the stick in a big way. I am talking about the Gideons (and I don’t mean the Bible distributors).

Gideon was a judge in Israel who successfully freed his nation from foreign domination. He was the main arbiter in Israel for 40 years.

Gideon was a hero. He was humble, refusing to be crowned as a king, and better yet, he followed God. (See Judges 6-8).

Like a lot of leaders (think “The Gipper”), he was assigned a nickname by his people.  They called him Jerub-Baal because he defeated the idolatry centered around a particular false god of the day called Baal.

Gideon not only left behind a heroic legacy, but also 70 sons,  He also left behind a black sheep of the family named Abimelek, a son he had through one of his slave women. (Gideon may have been  a hero, but like a lot of them, he had his faults.)

Abimelek looked around one day and decided that life had not been fair to him. His brothers were legitimate pop culture royalty, while he was a nobody.

As a result of his feelings, Abimelek convinced the people from his mother’s hometown that they were better off with kin (i.e., him)  in charge rather than the legitimate Gideons.  Abimelek was crowned king, at least for a day.

However, the boy didn’t stop there. He brutally murdered all but one of his half brothers.

The survivor, a boy named Jether, had a few questions of his own about the fairness issue. He climbed a mountain a safe distance from  Abimelek’s town, but within earshot, and asked the people:

“Have you acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelek king? Have you been fair to Jerub-Baal and his family? Have you treated him as he deserves? Remember that my father fought for you and risked his life to rescue you from the hand of Midian. But today you have revolted against my father’s family. You have murdered his seventy sons on a single stone and have made Abimelek, the son of his female slave, king over the citizens of Shechem because he is related to you.  So have you acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today?” (Judges 9:16-19)

I think the questions are mainly rhetorical. The answers are obvious.

When you are dealing with unrighteous people, you shouldn”t expect fairness or justice. Of course, it was ok for Jether to make these  folks think a little bit, if that was possible in their deluded minds.

He and his brothers didn’t do anything to deserve what Abimelek meted out.  Jether must have had the same thoughts Joseph did when he was unjustly sold into slavery and put in jail  by the Egyptians.

Joseph made this statement to a fellow inmate : “I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon (Genesis 40:15).”

In reflection, I think once I begin down the slippery slope of regularly criticizing my government for their unjust and unfair behavior, it isn’t too far to go to begin to criticize God. After all, he’s the Guv of the whole world.

I could ask God, “Have you been fair when I…?” or “Were you fair when You allowed them to…?”  It would be easy to finish these sentences.

I know government in many cases is corrupt and SHOULD be questioned at times. However, asking God if he has dealt with me as I deserve is a worthless exercise. Of course He is just, and I am not!

In fact, I deserve a lot worse from His hand than has been dished out to me (Psalm 103:10).  However, Jesus came into the world to save me and everyone else, not mete out punishment (I Timothy 1:15).

Thus, the next time I wonder why someone is not getting “theirs”, I should remind myself of God’s mercy and patience. He is giving everyone a chance to come around (II Peter 3:9). 

In the end, people will indeed get whacked for their injustices (Jeremiah 17:10), but it won’t be me doing the spanking. It’s a good thing because I deserve the paddle, too.

He even engineered the punishment of Abimelek and his Mom’s  townspeople. He made them turn their general hostility toward each other and they were both destroyed (Judges 9:22-56).

How should I think and act when unfairness and injustice come my way? Oswald Chambers has a good answer.

Chambers said that it is not our duty to “go the extra mile” or “turn the other cheek”. However, as believers we are called to go beyond the call of duty in our relationships with others.

It’s not easy. On the other hand, if God says “do it”, He must give the grace.

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