Be Just and Merciful
Dear Father, You inhabit all times and places. I want to be Your faithful child today in this time and at this place.
Read Exodus 23:1-19
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you…” (Amos 5:14).
God is a God of justice in whose presence truth matters. Why do people bend the truth to pervert justice, as seen in some law courts and the broader society? This passage offers some reasons. First, greed and corruption, such as when a witness or judge closes an eye to the truth after having received a bribe (8). Second, hatred. The example given—when you see a fallen donkey belonging to a man who hates you, you must help him (5)—can be extended to matters of justice. It is possible that people can bend the truth to treat unjustly those they hate, perhaps by giving false testimony, or judging them too harshly. Third, indifference—we can deny justice to the poor because they are voiceless and we don’t care (6). The phrase “your poor people” suggests that the poor are our responsibility; we can’t be indifferent about them or treat them as less than human. They, too, have a right to justice (Prov. 22:22). But that does not mean we can twist the truth in their favor, which would result in injustice (3). God expects impartial justice that honors truth and fairness (Prov. 17:15; 8:5).
The fourth reason is herd instinct. Just because everyone allows or does it, does not mean it is right. We are warned: “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong” (2). To be just, one may have to go against the grain and take the road less traveled. How often do we see migrant workers or minority groups treated unfairly and are tempted to say or do nothing? We are expected to care about God’s justice, which must not be confused with clinical legalism; at its heart it honors truth and incorporates compassion. The alien must be treated well (9), the poor must be left some food from the harvest (11), and servants must be given days to rest, just like the rest of us (12).
Are you guilty of any greed (8), corruption (7), indifference (5), or failure of nerve (2)? If so, seek forgiveness and renew Your devotion to the Lord (19).
Lord, forgive me that often I go along with the crowd to get along with the crowd. I pray for inner fortitude to stand firm for You.
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