Summary: This morning we are going to examine the compassionate life. For it is in the compassionate life that hope is often lifted up. It is in this stream or tradition that hope floats and rises to the top of our live. This compassionate life is the tradition al
Streams of Living Water
Hope Floats in the Compassionate Life
November 7, 2004
This morning we are going to examine the compassionate life. For it is in the compassionate life that hope is often lifted up. It is in this stream or tradition that hope floats and rises to the top of our lives.
The compassionate life is the tradition also known as the social justice tradition. Jesus continually was concerned about the injustices of His day especially as they would relate to the “scribes and Pharisees.” He condemned them. He spoke out against them. He worked actively to correct them. He taught His disciples to get the log out of their own eye so they could see clearly. Let’s look at Amos 5:21.
Speaking of getting the log out, a wife was making a breakfast of fried eggs for her husband.
Suddenly her husband burst into the kitchen.
“Careful ... CAREFUL! Put in some more butter! Oh my GOODNESS! You’re cooking too many at once. TOO MANY! Turn them! TURN THEM NOW! We need more butter. WHERE are we going to get MORE BUTTER? They’re going to STICK! Careful... CAREFUL! I said be CAREFUL! You NEVER listen to me when you’re cooking! Never! Turn them! Hurry up! Are you CRAZY? Have you LOST your mind? Don’t forget to salt them. You know you always forget to salt them. Use the salt. USE THE SALT! THE SALT!”
The wife stared at him. “What the in the world is wrong with you? You think I
don’t know how to fry a couple of eggs?”
The husband calmly replied, “I wanted to show you what it feels like when I’m driving.”
Let’s hear the word of the Lord. Amos 5:21.
I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of the well-being of your fatter animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. (WHY?) But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.
These are not comforting words. Basically God is saying that if we neglect issues of justice and righteousness then even the best worship and gifts are unacceptable to Him. Throughout Amos’ book, we are confronted with a just God that deals in justice. He is angered when those in power take advantage of those who do not have power. He despises the abuse of power because those in authority have been given the responsibility of making sure that justice is done. This is social rightness or social righteousness.
Let me give you a couple of other examples. Look at verse 10 of chapter 5.
They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth. Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have build houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins – you who afflict the innocent, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate.
The gate was where the leaders dispensed justice and settle disputes. Those that reprove the gate had total disdain for justice and the judicial process. The gate was wear the innocent could receive a fair hearing but bribes denied them this. The levies of grain spoke of overcharging tenant farmers for the use of the land. Rents were too high. Most likely the land had been fraudulently stolen from these farmers in the first place and now were burdened with high rent and taxes.
Turn to 2:6. They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals – they… trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way; father and son go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned; they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink wine bought with fines they imposed.
Huge injustices! Selling the poor into slavery, engaging in illicit sexual intercourse, taking financial advantage of the helpless. This all is the abuse of power. Amos calls for social justice. He calls for the compassionate life. What is the compassionate life?
A. Justice (righteousness).
The Hebrew word is mispat. It means justice or righteousness. Psalm 103:6 declares, “The Lord works vindication and justice (mispat) for all who are oppressed.”