Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Justice vs. Grace

Those of you who know me personally know that I value justice.  It seems that, from the time I was very little, justice has been very important to me (just ask my brothers how often I tattled on them).  I remember very distinctly during a college World Drama class becoming surprisingly emotional when we covered "Phaedra" by Jean Racine.  My spirit rebelled against the lack of personal responsibility from the lead characters and the inevitability of "the fates".

As I grew older and became more aware of how true justice could rip my world apart... that the consequences of my own actions could be serious enough to maim me forever... I found my grip on justice slowly loosening.  I began to acknowledge my true hunger for grace.  The more I craved grace for myself, the less I found it existed in the world at large.  I will never forget sitting in a church as a visitor and listening to the pastor preach grace... I started weeping and could barely breathe as my heart ached desperately for that grace to be poured out on me.  The seed had been planted for the true gospel to began a transformation in me.

Not long after, I led a group of women through Jerry Bridges' study, "Transforming Grace".  I was suddenly convicted that I was withholding the grace that I craved from the people around me.  Grace was great if it was lavished on me, but I wasn't about to show that same grace to others... especially if they had hurt me, were "unfair" or didn't seek reconciliation or forgiveness.  I was am the Ungrateful Servant of Matthew 18:21-35.  Suddenly my quest for justice didn't seem so righteous anymore.

During this time, I was struggling deeply with unrelenting anger toward a couple of people who I felt had abused their position and mistreated me.  My visceral reaction was to launch into a defense crusade for myself and at the same time engage in a smear campaign against them.  I was with a group of local worship leaders who gathered on a semi-regular basis for support and encouragement and as we were praying one of the women looked up and said, "Melissa, I think God has a verse for you."  A little apprehensively I said, "Ok...what is it?"  She sat next to me and had me turn to Exodus 14:14.
14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (ESV)
WHAT?! Be SILENT??!! What about justice?  What about restitution?  What about clearing my name?
 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (ESV)
I had to confront myself... did I trust that God would take care of this situation, the people involved and me?  Did I have faith in His Sovereignty?

I still fight a daily battle against my sense of justice and for the gospel of grace.  Today, in fact, I encountered another situation where I believed I had been misrepresented and subsequently mistreated.  I was hurt, discouraged and livid.  Unfortunately my old nature made the first move.  I sat down at my computer and wrote an angry polite dissertation on my innocence, my worth and how I had been wronged.  Fortunately, that still small voice of the Holy Spirit said, "Don't hit send!  Show it to someone you trust FIRST."  So I did.

My dear friend was empathetic but nevertheless spoke truth into my life (which is what being a real friend is all about).
"Justice is for the faithless." She said.
 It stopped me in mid-send-button.  What she was saying to me is demanding my attention and forcing me to ask those same "trust" questions I've asked before and will probably be asking until the day I die.  Do I trust Him?  I want the answer to be... "yes".

1 comment:

cintiaustin said...

Great Post!
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