Tag Archives: Proverbs

Do We Really Want a God of Unjust Justice?

This week while studying for my small group’s study in Proverbs, I ran across a theme that blew my mind. This theme is worth remembering- especially during Holy Week- and is found in Proverbs 16:11, 20:10 and 20:23.

Unknown16:11- “A just and balanced scales belong to the Lord; the weights of the bag are His concern.”

20:10- “Differing weights and differing measure, both of them are abominable to the Lord.”

 

20:23- “Differing weights are an abomination to the Lord, and a false scale is not good.”

What the writer of Proverbs talking about in these verses and in with this theme of weights and scales?

The first thing he is talking about is honest business. This goes back to the Law of Moses and Deuteronomy 25:13-16. But is that all? Is God so concerned with honest business that He reminds us of it at least three times in Proverbs?

I think there is a deeper level to this theme.

If you or I approached most people and asked them why God should let them into heaven when they die, they would probably say something along the lines of- “I’ve done good things and my good deeds out weigh my bad deeds and therefore God should let me into heaven.” Then if you or I asked them if God would be just for doing this, they would probably answer, “Yes God would be doing the just thing.”

Do you realize, however, that God would not be acting just God would be acting unjust? In fact, God would be acting in a manner that we would not accept within our own society from our own human judges.

courtroom

Think about it this way. Person A is caught in the act of robbing a bank. There are witnesses, cameras, and DNA evidence that prove Person A is guilty of robbing the bank. During the trial, Person A tells the judge of all the good things he does (opens doors for women, doesn’t cheat on his taxes, doesn’t curse out loud, keeps his yard mowed, ect.) and argues that because of all the good things he does and that he has only done this one bad thing, it makes him innocent of the crime he is guilty of. Would it be just of the judge to declare Person A innocent of the crime of robbing the bank on the basis that his good deeds out weight his bad deeds? No, of course not. The good things Person A had done might reduce his punishment but it doesn’t make him innocent of the crime committed. If the judge does declare Person A innocent, we would call the judge unjust and demand that judge’s removal and for justice to be done.

 


Do we want a God of unjust justice?


 

If we wouldn’t stand for such injustice in our human legal system, why do we want it with God? We want a God of unjust justice.

In these Proverbs, God is reminding us that he doesn’t have different sets of scales for each person- he only has one set and it is balanced and it is fair. The scales don’t change because you are religious. The scales don’t change because you are born into a specific family or in a specific country. The scales don’t change if you are a pastor or a murder. Both Pope Francis and Billy Graham are judged on the same scales as Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin.

That thought should give us all pause.

On the one hand, it means that there aren’t any surprises when it comes to God and his scales. On the other hand, it means that we are judged on just one thing- Jesus. I know I can only speak for myself but if my life is set against Jesus’ life, the scales will not go in my favor.

But thank God for Holy Week. Thank God for Good Friday. Thank God for Easter Sunday. Thank God that Jesus took my place on the scales and though he wasn’t guilty he took my guilt and my punishment.


In Jesus we find a God of just justice and a God of magnificent mercy.


While most of the world wants a God of unjust justice, in Jesus we find a God of just justice and a God of magnificent mercy. In God we find just justice because guilt was pronounced but magnificent mercy because the judge took the guilt and punishment upon himself.

During Holy Week, those of us who call ourselves “Christian” can thank God for that.

© Ryan Vanderland 2014

Would Solomon Call Bloggers Wise?

imagesI ran across a quote recently that was made by fellow Christian blogger, Micah J. Murray. He commented, “I don’t want to be a Christian writer, if it means writing from the heart and then hitting backspace until it feels safe again.” Initially, when I read that quote, it struck me as incredibly beautiful and it seemed like a goal that I wanted to achieve within my own writing.

However, as so often happens, things fail to stay that simple.

Enter Proverbs. In my church small group, we have been studying the book Unknownof Proverbs and last week, specifically, focused on the use of our speech and how it relates to being a wise person. There are several themes that permeate Proverbs on this topic. One of these themes is that wise people are careful before they speak. Another is that wise people don’t make hasty judgments but consider all the information. Another is that a wise person doesn’t enter into conflicts easily or answer a fool on the level of the fool.

Those are great pieces of wisdom, unless you are a writer, blogger or columnist.

As a writer, what topics are off limits? Or is everything fair game? How does one decide? When can a writer pen a piece knowing that he or she doesn’t have all the facts? Does being first trump being right? Naturally each writer writes to his or her unique audience but how much should that influence what is written? Do we write just for hits on the website, more book sales or a wider carried column?

We know what people like to read about; people like to read about controversy (meaning they like reading about when the side or opinion they don’t like get’s slammed). How much controversy have writers and bloggers created just to grow their webpage and platform?

Is it ok to be provocative for provocative’s sake?

When does being provocative cross the line to being a parasite? What’s the line between being comfortable in writing what is controversial or challenging (to shape, form, correct, and move forward your belief, group or cause) and becoming a cannibal to the very cause you are trying to promote?

I posed this question to blogger and author Tony Jones via Twitter. He responded by simply saying, “game time decision.”

Maybe that’s how it works. Writers write and hope for the best because it’s only hindsight that will determine whether a written piece was taken too far or not far enough. In the case that it was taken too far we need the humility to apologize. On the other hand, in the case that it was not taken far enough we need the guts to continue to push the issue- even if it’s to a place that isn’t safe.

In the end, maybe Murray’s quote is the best way to approach writing. I don’t know if Solomon would call it wise but I think it’s the best we have.

© Ryan Vanderland 2014