Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Four Ethics of the Gospel

Four tests of faithful covenant living include social, moral, and ethical commands. These are what God desires from His children.

Render true judgments. Administer/execute true justice. Judicial decisions must be made impartially according to God's principles. Hate injustice. "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8) "God invites and commands His people to not just be aware of injustice but to pursue justice. Not just to pursue justice but to live justly...We do justice because justice is rooted in the character of God and thus must reflect in the character of His followers." (Eugene Cho)

Show mercy and compassion/kindness to one another. Putting our love into action should guide our relationships with others. "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6) Be quick to forgive and give grace & mercy. 
We are to have tender hearts that sympathize/empathize with others. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. Suffer with those who suffer. Deeply moved by others' afflictions/ hardships. Feel their pain. Genuine caring hearts that want to comfort and uplift the hurt, the sorrowful, and the distressed. "I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary." (Charles Spurgeon) "
We must feel the strain, and carry the burden, and endure the struggle ourselves--and only then can we be touched with the feeling of sympathy, or can give help to others in life's stresses and overwhelming needs. So we see one compensation of suffering--it prepares us for being helpers to others." (J.R. Miller)

Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless/orphans, the foreigner, or the poor. Don't take advantage of the helpless and the less fortunate. O
ppression is clearly forbidden. We are expected to protect and help the oppressed, the weak, and the needy. 
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27) "Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:17) "Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns...Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge." (Deuteronomy 24:14, 17) We should be kind and give to those who are unable to repay us. "If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: 'The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,' so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to." (Deuteronomy 15:7-10)

Do not plot or plan evil in your heart against others. "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:18) "Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning's light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud people of their homes, they rob them of their inheritance. Therefore, the Lord says: 'I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly, for it will be a time of calamity." (Micah 2:1-3) Any evil or ill thoughts are sinful. It's very important for us to 
take captive our every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

The Gospel covers all these ethics. Matthew 25:31-46 (The Sheep and the Goats), Luke 12:32-34 (invest in eternity), Matthew 5:21-22 (murder in the heart and thoughts), Matthew 5:27-28 (adultery in the heart) and more. These ethics are also implied in the "Love your neighbor as yourself" command.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." (Matthew: 23:23)

Prayer: Father, please create in me a clean heart and nurture justice, mercy, compassion, kindness, goodness, generosity in my heart. Please purify my thoughts, grant me the mind of Christ, and help me follow in Christ's footsteps. Do Your work & have Your way in me and receive all the glory! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

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