Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Considers Justice vs Mercy

Looking for a valuable resource to help you teach your sons what it means to be a good husband, father, and citizen? Let me introduce you to Bob Schultz. Son #2 and I have worked through 2 of his books and are now into the 3rd: Boyhood and Beyond. As we go thru this book, I am panic stricken at the thought that he has yet to publish a 4th book. His books are an easy read, but each chapter is a gift of immeasurable value. I hope he has another one in the works!

Today's chapter was about the concept of justice. AURGH! What a week for us to come across that one! It hit a little too close to home because of a situation we are dealing with for the next few days. This situation is draining. The nature of it leaves me wanting to speak my mind in distasteful ways. I know that when this season is over, I will be exhausted no matter what I do or don't do. I'm ready for it to be over today. It is not.

As I worked thru today's chapter, I realized that life is almost always about a choice. For me the choice in this situation is simple. Will I act like an adult, or will I not? Will I continue to act like an adult even if others make that difficult to near impossible. I don't know whether to love Bob Schulz or hate his guts (in a loving,Christian bless-my-heart-honey kind of way, of course!).

The preface to the chapter contains words of Benjamin Rush written to John Adams in 1811:

The world stands in more need of justice than charity, and indeed it is the want of justice that renders charity everywhere so necessary.” (p. 102)

In this chapter, he dissects justice in a new and refreshing (at least to me) way. I'm sure as soon as you read the word, you began to think of courtroom justice, family discipline, or maybe even church discipline. To Schultz's credit, his approach is much more basic. He explains in his homespun, direct way that justice starts with one's own self-discipline. He gives examples of a boy who returns money to a lady even tho' it is exactly what he needs to help complete a purchase. Another example involves a boy who discards a trashy magazine he happens across in a parking lot even tho' there is great temptation to take a peek. These boys acted justly...with self discipline and dignity in the absence of external oversight or controls.

In the author's words:

Justice is the backbone of a man. It gives him the ability to face all his selfish passions, to knock them to the side of the road, and to walk forward, doing what is right.” (p. 103)

He further states, “The unjust believe that everyone owes them something....Their life is a constant complaint.” (p. 105)

You have to wonder, if more of us considered justice as built on this basic foundation, would violent flashmobs of teens storm across cities like Philadelphia, PA, London, England, and Greenville, SC wrecking destruction upon property and life? Would adults randomly shoot each other over some perceived slight in rush hour traffic? Would fathers abandon families to pursue their own selfish agendas. Would parents look the other way when their bullies wreck havoc? How many out of control lives would be reigned in? How many would suffer less and produce more if we first looked within to evaluate our own foundation vs looking for mercy to excuse us in our selfishness.

After I got thru in Mr. Schultz's woodshed, I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, and said a heartfelt prayer. I asked for strength to act justly over the next week or so. I know that when I grade my report card at the close of this current situation, I will look back with regret. I will wish that I had done more and that I had done a better job. But, thanks to Mr. Schultz, I will know that I was daily mindful that justice is my OWN responsibility FIRST. I will also know that I daily reminded myself that I cannot expect mercy unless I have chosen to act justly. In those regards, I am better prepared to handle the challenge before me now.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
What about you, fraidy cat? Sometimes, when we are really, really afraid, it is easier to act selfishly and seek mercy later. Isn't that why that new, old saying, “It's easier to say I'm sorry than ask permission,” kind of mindset is so popular these days?

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for walking with me as I write my way back to God. Come back tomorrow? Maybe bring a friend? Love you long and strong. And that, my fraidy cat friend, is a promise!

Micah 6:8 (Bible in Basic English)
He has made clear to you, O man, what is good; and what is desired from you by the Lord; only doing what is right, and loving mercy, and walking without pride before your God. 


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