Justice and Mercy

“Flattery is nothing but attention without intention.”~~Mark Lindsey

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is logophile. No, not “Legophile.” “Logophile.” It means “a lover of words.”

Today is Sesame Street Day, originally started in 2009 to recognize the 40th anniversary of the show that has had an impact on countless children (and adults, as well).

Tuesday mornings are always tough. I get home from band practice just in time to go to bed, and don’t get my target amount of sleep. But it’s worth it, I think. This Christmas concert is going to be fun!

I have a dental appointment tomorrow afternoon at 4:00. I had a crown that came off Saturday afternoon, so I’m trying to get it put back in place. Hopefully, he can do this without a lot of trouble. I plan on going in to work at 7:00 and getting off at 3:30, so there may not be a blog tomorrow morning. If there is, it will be a “quickie.”

Stephanie and Christi went to Fitness 2000 last night, while I was at band practice. We plan to go again tonight, after work. We are still working on our strategy, though. Peak hours are between 5:30 and 7:00, so we may need to eat first and then go work out. We aren’t sure about that, yet.

One more thing. It was 40 years ago today that the event occurred which inspired this song.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

The next chapter, Chapter Thirteen, is called “Intimacy: Finding His Grace.” In spite of the title, it looks like this is a tough chapter. We’ll see why in a moment.

Many people know and believe that God forgives. And for many people, this doesn’t seem all that remarkable. However, if you look carefully at the Old Testament, it was an astounding wonder to the prophets and authors of those books of the Bible. God, himself, made this proclamation as he passed in front of Moses on the mountain:

“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.”

That was part of Exodus 34:6-7. In these verses, we see two truths that seem contradictory, but actually go hand in hand. “God is forgiving yet is so holy that he cannot let injustice and wickedness go unpunished.” It is truths like this that caused David to exclaim, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4) David doesn’t say, “‘Of course you are forgiving, Lord – that’s your job.'” Rather, “he trembles with amazement that the God of the universe, to whom we owe everything, would forgive rebellion and sin.” Micah, the prophet, chimes in, as well:

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression? . . . He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. . . . He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

That is from Micah 7:18-19.

The Old Testament is really about covenants. In fact, there are some who call it the “Old Covenant.” But what the history really seems to present to us is “an account of individuals and communities continually breaking their promises and obligations to God.” We would think that all of this promise-breaking would result in the covenants being nullified. But we see, instead, God remaining faithful, in spite of the faithlessness of his people. This causes Tim Keller to pose a question: “Is our covenant relationship with God conditional, based on our obedience to him, or is it unconditional, based on his love for us?” The answer is found in the New Testament.

In Romans 3:25-26, Paul says, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The “whom” of verse 25 is Jesus Christ. The question is re-stated. “Is the covenant with God conditional because God is just, or unconditional because God is our justifier? The answer is yes. Jesus, in dying on the cross, took the curse of our unfaithfulness upon himself, in order that we could take the blessing of his faithfulness upon ourselves. He “fulfilled the conditions of the covenant so we can enjoy the unconditional love of God.” This enabled God to practice both justice and mercy.

This is how we understand God’s great grace, by having a clear picture of both the Old Testament and the New. Those who would set aside the Old Testament will not have a balanced grip on God’s grace, thinking that God’s forgiveness is easy for him, cost him nothing, and is owed to us. However, those who spend too much time in the Old Testament might begin to doubt the reality of their pardon. “Only when we see both the freeness and the cost of forgiveness will we get relief from the guilt as well as liberation from the power of sin in our lives.”

Father, keep me balanced between my understanding of both of these aspects of your grace. I have found myself in both camps of error, from time to time, but I must confess that, most of the time, I find myself in the Old Testament, doubting that I could possibly be forgiven for all of my sins. This causes me to constantly be down on myself. Help me to know your grace, fully, understanding both the cost of forgiveness and the freedom that it brings. As John Newton wrote, Lord, your grace truly is amazing. Help me to understand it.

Come, Lord Jesus!

This blog was brought to you by the letter B and the number 19.

Grace and peace, friends.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Justice and Mercy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s