July 22, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“And what does the Lord require of you? He requires you to act justly. He requires you to love mercy. He requires you to walk humbly with Him. [These are not mere suggestions!].” (Micah 6.8)
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become [clothed with] the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5.21)
What justice means depends solely on one’s point of reference. As Peter stood in the Temple courtyard on Pentecost Sunday, the first day of the week, he declared under the power of the Holy Spirit, the justice of God was superior to the justice of humankind. The people were struck by the reality of those who “murdered the innocent.” To those in authority, the “innocent one” was guilty of treason and heresy. He deserved to die and Israel would be better for it. To those clothed in the Spirit of God, the “guilty one” according to the ruling justice system of Rome and the Temple was faithful and true to the One and Only God. He accepted death as a sacrifice to God so that all the world would be better for it. Humanity’s justice stripped Jesus of His earthly dignity. God’s justice clothed Him with righteousness and seated Him again at His right hand on the throne of Heaven.
What is justice? Is it the call for “fairness, equity, and respect for others”? Or is justice the living out of the determination of guilt and innocence? Or is justice the cry for “give me what I feel I deserve”? David cried out for justice often in his songs of living in relationship with God among people. He wrote about lament, bitterness, joy, gladness, vengeance, retribution, goodness and mercy. In the end, David always landed on the place where God’s righteousness was the ultimate determination of justice. It was the rock on which he stood. It was the rock of faith and trust upon which he established his own life. Man’s justice is for a day and may as easily be gone tomorrow. God’s justice is forever and will be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Man’s justice focuses more on “the means justifies the end.” God’s justice is about “the end justifies the means.” Even when it meant that His only begotten Son had to be sacrificed in order to enact His justice of mercy and grace. Who then of us is truly innocent? Which of us can say “I have not sinned and therefore Jesus did not die for me?” Or worse, who will say, “I am a sinner, there is no Jesus and therefore I will determine my own fate and my own justice.” In the end, there are only two decisions and both rely on the justice of God whether the “world” will admit to it or not in both their confession of wrong and their profession of right.
Mighty ones of God, if we truly desire to be clothed in righteousness we must be followers of the Way of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. He alone makes it possible for us to live in this world and not be of it. His nature and character of living in right relationship with God outlines for us how to live in the “way, truth and life” which leads to God’s presence now and forever. We are either shrouded with death or robed with righteousness. We cannot avoid the one (death), but we must choose the other (righteousness.) Righteousness is, was and will always be a choice. God does not have to decide our end because we will have done it for Him by our choice to believe in Him, trust in Him and follow Him all the days of our lives. His justice is allowing us to receive what we determined is our true means. If we live for self and promote such attitude for others, then we have chosen not to live for God and not promote faith in Him in others. If we are not for God, then we ultimately are against ourselves. We cannot change the consequences of bad behavior. We can choose to live rightly so that those consequences don’t become our judgment. This is what happened with Jesus Christ. Death was inevitable as it comes to us all until that Last Day. But, true death for the sake of life comes when we die to self and live for God. Jesus said it, “Though you may die, yet shall you live.” When Jesus said to Martha, “I AM the resurrection and the life,” He meant that the power of resurrection and life existed in Him. It lives also in those who accept Him as their Lord and Savior and walk according to His understanding of justice.
What was His understanding of justice? Simply put it was and is and will always be: Love God first; love your neighbor as yourself; love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you; and to love one another within the body of Christ. That is a mantle of responsibility worth having in our spiritual wardrobe.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Father, You who has loved us beyond measure and beyond anything we can imagine for ourselves, we say “thank You.” Though our sins have made us as scarlet, Your righteousness can cleanse us to be as white as snow if we would be believe in You and trust Your will and way in all things. We are not perfect. We will fall short. But, we commit ourselves to You today to do Your will to the best of our ability. Strengthen that ability with the clothing of us with Your righteousness and by filling us with Your Holy Spirit. This we pray in Jesus’ name. AMEN.