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But...it is justice I seek

Have you ever been looking so hard for something, only to find it was right there in front of you? I have struggled to find a particular tool when I most needed it, only to have my grandson walk in a couple weeks later and hold it up right from where it always was (the exact spot it was supposed to be in the first place). We even do this with God - knowing he was supposed to be right there, but unable to see that he is. I imagine all of us have stood at one time or another just wondering how some people could ignore that God is right there in their circumstances - but they are just too stubborn or blind to see it - us included. They know they should heed the warnings they have received, but they plunge full-force into whatever seems to be what will give them the "immediate" thrill of the moment, or with some 'scheme' that will 'make do' because they want an easier way of doing things. Then they (and we) complain when things don't work out! It is possible to possess the revelation of God (know what to do) BUT then completely ignored it.

The insolent ridicule me without mercy, but I don't budge from your revelation. I watch for your ancient landmark words, and know I'm on the right track. But when I see the wicked ignore your directions, I'm beside myself with anger. (Psalm 119:51-53)

Go with me to a time when Jesus is teaching a large crowd, when in walk the finely dressed, perfectly 'righteous' religious leaders, intent on stoning a woman to death. She had been "caught" in the act of adultery - that means they probably walked in on her and the guy she was with in the very act! They were attempting to set a trap for Jesus that day - not really looking for "wisdom" in how to handle this woman's sin, or even what to do with the adulterous male involved in this relationship! They had an "ulterior" motive for what they were doing - narrowly focused on that intent and nothing else. They begin this encounter by citing the Law of Moses - it said they should stone her for her immoral behavior - so they ask, "What say you, Jesus?" In almost a "fatherly" manner, Jesus delays answering. He bends down, writes something in the dirt with his finger, and remains silent. They cannot abide his silence - so they badger him for an answer. I doubt they really wanted the answer they received - as they were already intent on what they wanted to do! This is how we are sometimes - we have our own "agendas" with God - intent on what we want and not really open to seeing things with a new perspective or in a way he might imagine for us.

This is actually what an ulterior motive is - it is having a secret or hidden agenda! There is something hidden in our actions - we might say one thing, but we are thinking and acting on another. Jesus rises to his full height, looks them squarely in the eyes, and states openly, "The sinless among you go first. Throw the stone." He was pointing out the need for mercy - they were focused on the need for judgment and the desire to corner him into disagreeing with the Law. Which do you suppose this lady needed most - alignment with the "Law", or forgiveness for her 'moral slip'? When the wicked ignore clearly defined directions, it can make us angry. We just don't "get it". How can something so plain as the need for "mercy" in the face of all we have been forgiven be such a hard thing for us to grasp? Yet, it is! We grapple with this idea of "judging" others when we would be absolutely beside ourselves if another judged us for exactly the same thing! The Old Testament is full of stories of mercy. It starts with Adam and Eve and continues to present day time. Sure, the Law set out some standards for living upright lives - but God never left out the fact that mercy was needed for our many sins! In fact, when Moses received the instructions for the Tabernacle, one of the many furnishings was the "Mercy Seat" of God. God 'planned' for mercy being needed - our sin never caught him off-guard!

The Mercy Seat was just above the Ark of the Covenant (the place of God's Word). The promises attached to the Mercy Seat were simply: "I will meet with you there! I will talk with you there!" The Mercy Seat was a place of communion with God. At the feet of Jesus that day, the woman met with God! She "communed" with him. She experienced his mercy. We might not always remember the grace of God in our own lives - yet in those moments when we are angered by the "sin" of another, we might do well to ponder the fact, "There for the GRACE of God go I!" Sometimes we "ignore" the revealed will of God, too. When we find ourselves in the place of "ignoring" what is right before us, we want "mercy" - not judgment, not anger, and certainly not rejection. It is a natural response to judge - it is a Christ-like response to extend mercy. The choice is ours, but we best choose wisely. Just sayin!

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