Posts tagged ‘injustice’

Mercy and Compassion

The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. Psalm 145:8

It is easy to get caught up in defending my rights, my causes, my property, my beliefs, my theology, my world. Perhaps this is because we each face struggles, temptations, and injustices every day. These injustices can be as minor as someone cutting you off in traffic making you late for work, or cutting your pay even though you deserve a pay raise. But life is not about the injustices or the lows of life. Neither is it about the accolades and the highs of life. Rather, life is about how we respond to such circumstances. 

Yesterday I had a man return our chair he had taken to remove, as best he could, the paint he had spilled on it. We felt the need to repaint the interior of our home we recently moved into as the color scheme was actually depressing to me. We chose a paint company who had a good reputation, although quite expensive. But I felt they were worth it because I believed this company would make things right and do a superior job. The work crew consisted of two very polite and industrious hispanic men who spoke very little English. I grew to appreciate these men as they were conscientious, always on time, and took pride in their work.

After completing the job, there were some touch ups I requested to have done next to the stairs where new carpet had just been installed. In the process of touching up some missed spots on the wall, my painter friend spilled a gallon of paint on the new carpet and an upholstered chair in the living room. He frantically and diligently cleaned up the mess. He took the chair home to clean it more thoroughly. When he returned the chair, I was impressed that he had done a remarkable job, but I could still see the paint stain. I was ready to call the owner of the company and submit a claim, which he had previously told me that he would cover without a problem. However, the man who had painted my house and then spilled the paint requested that I not call the owner because he would lose his job. He explained, through an interpreter (his son), that he is simply a contract worker and would be required to pay for any damages out of his own pocket. He told me that he would make it right and pay for a replacement chair and new upholstery. I told him the estimated cost of such a replacement and I realized he would have to work a month to replace the damaged chair.

As I thought about this situation, I was saddened at the injustice my painter friend was experiencing in the work place. He is a hard worker and very talented. But more than that, he is honest and just. I was troubled throughout the night, and then this morning I read Psalm 145:8. God convicted me that my friend was worth far more than a perfect chair. I then texted by friend a thank you note telling him I would not mention this incident to the owner of his company and that the chair and the carpet look great. For now, I will keep the chair with it’s paint stain as a reminder of the injustices that people all around me endure.

I am thankful for the mercy and compassion God extends to me and how He has extended a measure of that to my friend through me, however reluctant I was to do so. I know a burden, however temporary, has been lifted this day from his shoulders. And I have a gift in the form of a slightly damaged chair sitting in my living room as a testament to God’s mercy and compassion in my life.

Feel the Anger!

Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became angry.  1 Samuel 11:6

I had been studying the Bible with a James for several weeks. He was always happy, optimistic, and passionate about life. I thoroughly enjoyed the hour we would spend together studying God’s Word each week. But then there was the day that James came to my office with a heavy heart, a downcast spirit, and a sense of hopelessness in his eyes. He wanted to pretend that everything was okay, but we had bonded over God’s Word for too long for him to keep his hurt and pain inside. So he finally told me about his experience of being bullied on the school bus. The more he described, the angrier I became. I had grown to love James. The thought of a group of boys saying and doing cruel things to James broke my heart. I could see the pain in his face as much as he tried to hide it. My anger motivated me to spend extra time with James, give him advice, dig deeper into God’s Word for the promises of love and acceptance that James needed to hear. From that day forward, James and I talked about how to respond to the boys who would mistreat him, how to find himself in the midst of the rejection of others, and how to grow in God’s grace.

Saul had been anointed the first king of Israel. We read in 1 Samuel 10 that Saul was changed by God’s Spirit and that he was given a “new heart.” About a month after this transformational experience with God, Saul was plowing in the field when he was told that King Nahash of Amon would sign a peace treaty with the Israelites on one condition. He would gouge out the right eye of every person in Israel. This is when we read 1 Samuel 11:6 that Saul became angry. I must admit that most of the time I become angry it’s because of my own selfishness. I am concerned about my time, my money, or my reputation. But there are times, as in my experience with James, that I have felt God’s Spirit in me awakening a deep sense of anger due to the injustice around me.

Jesus, Himself, experienced the Spirit descend upon Him causing anger when He cleared the Temple of the moneychangers who were preventing people from worshiping God. There are times when anger is the only response appropriate for the situation. What should be our response to slavery, the sex trade, poverty, orphans, starvation, abuse, racism, and gender inequality in many places around the world? Perhaps if we allowed the Spirit of God to come upon us like Saul allowed in the early days of his reign, we would be angry. Not an anger that consumes our soul, but an anger that motivates us to love, touch, care, and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I know this is a tough subject. I do not like being angry. And because I don’t want to be angry, I don’t let myself watch the TV ads about the starving children around the world, or the women being beaten in places I have never been to. I want to ignore the injustices in the world because I don’t like being angry. But there are times when anger is the only appropriate response. There are times when I need to care enough about the people around me to understand and feel their pain. There are times when I need to feel the anger that motivates me to love. There are times when I need to open my eyes, see the injustices around me, watch the TV ads, and feel the anger that comes from God.

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