Thursday, March 26, 2009

the golden rule...

He'll get what's coming to him."

'What goes around comes around'

'Tit for tat'

'You get what you give.'

The list of phrases we use to express the feelings we have for retaliation to be heaped upon the person that has harmed us is endless.

It is human nature to want immediate justice for a wrong done against us. We want the person to 'pay'.

The legal precepts of the Israelites in the Old Testament set forth the standard of swift justice. In Exodus 20, Moses has been given commandments by God and has brought them down the mountain to declare God's decrees to the people. In Exodus 21, God expands on the previous 10 Commandments, giving a framework for judging and solving civil disputes in Israel. Exodus 21:23-25 reads "But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. And in Leviticus 24:19-21 we read "If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him. 21 "Thus the one who kills an animal shall make it good, but the one who kills a man shall be put to death.

Swift judgement rendered!

Yet even in the midst of the laws allowing an eye for an eye, God sets forth the standards for loving one another. Leviticus 19:17~18 {within the same context as the verses above} states, You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

The law of 'an eye for an eye' was NEVER meant to condone acts of personal retaliation. The law was given to establish a standard for limiting retribution for what was just. To ensure that the punishment fit the crime.

In Matthew 5:38-48 we read, "You have heard that it was said, "AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' 39 "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
42 "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. 43 "You have heard that it was said, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The New Testament Christian is to treat others as he would want to be treated. To rejoice with those that rejoice and to weep with those that weep. {Rom.12:15}

God will judge. Vengeance is His.

Thankfully, God is also a God of forgiveness and mercy.

We worship a God that will forgive one who is trying to follow His word and commands, yet stumbles and falls along the path of righteousness when blinded by unloving thoughts of 'Serves you right!"

He will forgive one of His children who rejoices{ with a big smile and a few comments} when she learns that the man that fired her husband was himself fired a few years later!

And because He loves us and knows we will err, He reassures us that~~ Because the Lord your God is a God of mercy, he will not take away his help from you or let destruction overtake you, or be false to the agreement which he made by an oath with your fathers {Deut. 4:31}

Our God is an awesome God!