series: the narrative of grace
title: women of the narrative
teacher: Jacob Bender
date: November 29, 2015
scripture: Matthew 1:3, Hebrews 11:31, James 1:27, Hosea 4:14, Romans 12:19, Genesis 38,
A lot of people talk about Justice. It is something that is very close to the heart of God, but I think that a lot of people talk about it, without even knowing what it is that they are talking about.
I have, in recent months answered questions about what I believe the church should be, and what I believe is important, by talking about Justice. And often when I start talking about that, people get a bit uncomfortable. They are not quite sure how to respond to me, because they don’t understand what I am talking about. They think I mean vengeance.
It is very easy to confuse the two. Vengeance, in Hebrew is the word “naqam” which essentially just means vengeance, – Holmans Bible Dictionary tells it slightly differently when it defines it as “to avenge” or “to be punished”
The idea is to get back at someone… to make them hurt more than you hurt because what they did to you hurt.
It is an anti-gospel that many of us at times have adopted when we allow our emotions or our politics to shape our convictions rather than the truth found in the word of God.
But if you were to ask me, “What is important to you?” and I were to answer “Vengeance” – run. Any pastor who would say that, get as far away from them as you can.
Vengeance is a poison.
The bible says we must never, ever take vengeance. It says vengeance is the Lords (Romans 12:19) but it says that we must seek and defend Justice. Isaiah 1:17 says “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
The word Justice in Hebrew is the word tsadaq
it literally means “to have a just cause, OR to be in the right, or WHAT IS RIGHT…”
Justice is the right thing to do.
Thats the definition. The right thing to do.
My entire life growing up was always about abstaining. What am I not doing? Am I pure? Do I lust? Do I sin? and there is absolutely no justifying sin, there is no justifying what Tamar did, or what Rahab did, or what David and the wife of Uriah did… There is no justifying sex in any context outside of a marriage, there is no justifying doing any of those things, but I have found, for me, in all my efforts to not do things, I didn’t do much of anything for other people, at all.
In my little “mission” of staying away from the sinful things I got so caught up in that, that I didn’t notice people who were hurting.
I always noticed people when they were sinning.
I was really good at that. I always knew when people were doing what they weren’t supposed to be doing.
But I didn’t notice the stranger.
I didn’t think about the stranger. I thought about my friends. I didn’t entertain angels. I entertained my friends! I entertained people who knew me and had something to offer me, and who made me feel comfortable.
and though those things are all great, if your life is limited to only that, then that is not the right thing.
You know, the bible is full of stories of people who did the wrong thing. Paul talked about it constantly. He said he always did what he didn’t want to do…
King David and the wife of Uriah, they did the wrong thing. And an affair lead to a cover-up, and then lead to murder. But even King David’s mess of a life culminated at grace. It culminated at God looking at him and saying “That is a man after my own heart…. a man who does ALL that I say”
Every instance of people doing the wrong thing all throughout the bible is met with grace.
Because the entire gospel of Jesus Christ is that:
We are people who do the wrong thing.
Yet the bible speaks over and over of a God who is extremely gracious to people who do the wrong thing.
But it seems that He is far less gracious toward the people who do NOT do the right thing (JUSTICE).
The people who ignore justice, when it is right in front of them. The harshest judgments are set aside for them. James 4:17 puts it mildly when it says that “for him who knows what he ought to do, to not do it is a sin.” And Matthew 25 speaks of the harshest judgments going to the ones who ignore injustice.
Yet we focus on the sin part.