Summary: Is it possible that we just don’t see the people? Many people hide behind rules and regulations, in order to not have to deal with the messiness that comes with real life.
I want to talk about living a just life. I thought that our readings for the book of Exodus would be the perfect book to use for this but that passage dealt more with the logistics of the courts system. So, the passage of Scripture that we will use today comes from 1 Peter 3:8-14.
It is as simple as this; if we are committed to God in love, then we will naturally be just in our dealings.
True story: July 15, 2000 Tim was rushing his wife, who had intense pain, to the emergency ward. But the entrance to Emergency was blocked, so Tim decided to park in front of another set of doors. He just wanted to get his wife into Emergency as fast as possible. Tim remembered getting a parking ticket. He forgot about it until he decided to clean out his car and remove his wife’s belongings after her death.
Tim then wrote a letter to the municipal court to explain the circumstances that led to the ticket. He expected that the ticket would be forgiven. The response was a notice that said “pay up by Sept.7 or 30 days in jail.” Tim said: “That was the last thing I needed, I was trying to help my wife, and it seemed they were trying to put me in jail.” The municipal court clerk explained that there was nothing that could be done. Tim paid his ticket and he asked “Where are the people behind the rules and regulations?”
In other words, where is the compassion? Is it possible that we just don’t see the people? Many people hide behind rules and regulations, in order to not have to deal with the messiness that comes with real life. If real people are hurt, who cares, who gives a rip? Just follow procedure! And if this frame of thought continues, folks like Tim will be hurt some more. Is this really the justice that God wants? That’s the trouble with many people who use the law of God, they hide behind it, rather than deal with compassion and mercy which reflects much more the image of God!
I’m reminded of the passage in Galatians 5 (NLT), where Paul told about how people who with no thought of expressing God’s love pervert the law. It shows how far folks go to insist on following the rule book rather than following the Spirit of the law.
Is that the case? Do we sometimes get so caught up in our churchy lives that we forget to have compassion on others outside the church? Paul says, “It makes no difference to God whether we are circumcised or not circumcised. What is important is FAITH EXPRESSING ITSELF IN LOVE.”
So how do we live justly? What does the Bible teach us about dealing justly with others? It gets down to something that we stress strongly here at SEBC—just care. Earnestly and sincerely care about other people and it will show. Then the Holy Spirit will use you to the fullest extent.
Originally, I was going to use this passage of Scripture from 1 Peter to close the message. But God caused me to really look at the passage in 1 Peter 3:8-14 (NLT) which tells us to keep on living justly by being loving to your neighbor. It’s rewarding. Let’s look at that passage. READ. Listen to God’s Word.
This passage was written to Christians living in a pagan society where Christianity was being attacked and Christians were persecuted and even put to death for their faith. Peter was calling them to grow into maturity in their lifestyles toward others. It was a call to right living in word as well as in their actions. He wanted these qualities to be the norm in a Christian’s life rather than the exception to the rule.
The natural response was to respond to hostility with retaliation and hateful cutting words. And isn’t that really OUR natural tendency? Peter is telling them, “No, you should respond in a different way--with gentleness--the quality that trusts God to do the work of changing people and attitudes.”
Peter had developed these qualities over a long period of time the hard way. In his early days with Christ these attitudes did not come naturally to him. He was impulsive, strong willed, and he was always putting his foot in his mouth and saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. He had a difficult time and suffered the consequences many times.
James says, “you can tame a tiger but you can’t tame a tongue” (James 3:7). Peter probably would agree with this statement. This sums up the problem that Peter had experienced earlier in his life and that the Christians under his care were experiencing as well.
So, a lot of dealing justly with others concerns watching our mouths. Each of us at one time or another has a problem with our mouths—especially when people rub us the wrong way. What can we learn from today’s scripture that will help us in this area of our life?