“That’s right.” I chimed in. “Don’t push Caleb. We don’t push anyone. No Pushing!”
“No pushing!” She repeated. “Don’t push Caleb!”
Once every-other week Grace goes to Ms. Monica’s learning center where she has the opportunity to connect with other kids. Recently her “connecting” has been a bit “pushy.” When I looked to Ms. Monica for reassurance that Grace was not allowed to get away with this behavior, she did assure me Grace was corrected every time. “I will say, though,” the teacher confided, “that she seems to be in the protective mode when she does it. Usually she is sticking up for someone else.”
Hmmmmm. I thought to myself. This is interesting, because not three weeks earlier we got a report from the nursery at church that Grace had thrown a book at a little boy. In typical “mom” fashion I marched myself down to the nursery to see how Ms. Jane handled the situation— utterly convinced of my child’s guilt. Only to have Ms. Jane say: “Well, I put her in a Time-out so she would know not to thrown things at people, but really she was standing up for Jessica. Nick was trying to take a toy away, and Grace threw a book at him and shouted ‘No! Share!’”
Wow. Grace had not even turned two when these incidents occurred. Yet, she clearly already had a sense of justice and a built in desire to stand up for others. Now, don’t think I am painting some rosy picture of my kid. Grace has been known to lash out with pushing, kicking, and screaming for as many perceived “injustices” (like not getting a lollypop or having the TV turned off) and clearly she needs to learn how to channel her desires for justice properly. But from these incidents it is clear this intrinsic code of justice is something hard wired in us. Because we are made in the image of the creator we reflect his nature, and his nature is of perfect justice. As such, we have a deep ingrown longing, a passionate desire to see justice now. Further still, some of us possess a drive for compassion to protect the weak, and right the imperfections we daily encounter. But we live in a broken world where justice often fails to prevail. And then what do we do?
We do what Grace does. We remind ourselves.
God’s wisdom in Proverbs tells us: “…do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart... Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:1-3
Isn’t it amazing, how we must continually remind ourselves of God, his word, his law, his wisdom, mercy, and grace, his promises and his LOVE? We are so forgetful! We must preach the Gospel everyday— to OURSELVES! We must remind ourselves daily so that it is what is written on our hearts and bound around our necks. We must remind ourselves over and over again. “Don’t push Caleb!” Until we so fully trust in the Lord’s justice that we do not need to seek our own.
With the Gospel written on our hearts we are able to trust God fully, even in the injustices we do not understand. This guides us to make wise choices rather than rash acts of vengeance. I love the Complete Jewish Bible’s translation of Romans 12:19. “Never seek revenge, my friends… [For God says] ‘Vengeance is my responsibility…’” What a relief that is!—because I tell you, all the energy it takes to act as judge, jury and executioner is more than our hearts can bear. I know you have felt the weight of it. Maybe in the pains of broken relationships and people who have hurt you, maybe in the pains of watching your loved one’s suffer, or simply turning on the news to see the millions of fellow brothers and sisters who live in hunger, poverty, slavery, or abuse. From obnoxious beltway drivers to awful people, where is the justice??? We rail against the lack of justice and perfection in this world precisely because we were meant for another world. And this is why our anger brews and our hearts rebel or we wring our hands in vain. But we don’t need to expend all this energy trying to make the world right according to our standards because it’s not our responsibility! It is God’s responsibility, and He has not forgotten it.
He’s God, our God, in charge of the whole earth. And he remembers, remembers his Covenant – for a thousand generations he’s been as good as his word
Psalm 105:7-8 MSG
Let us not forget either.
Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels.… I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.… Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed…. Isaiah 46:8-13
The Lord is the one who will right all wrongs, wipe away every tear, and meet out every justice. His righteousness will prevail. He is our salvation. But how do we hold on to that in a practical sense?
First, we continue to bind His word to our hearts, fix it in our minds: HE is in charge of the whole world. He is God, we are not. He is bringing his righteousness. He will repay. Vengeance is His. His word and his law are wisdom. We are to remember.
Second, we put to practice what we have written on our hearts in the exercises of “remembering.” God’s word is both subversive and counter-intuitive. Because we are hard wired by him to long for justice our gut reaction is to seek it on our own for those real and perceived injustices we daily encounter. But God’s word says:
On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:20-21
This is how we are to manage the world of injustices we face, with Soul Force rather than sole force. Here is the real victory. When we take matters into our own hands we are overcome by evil. The satisfaction we imagine we acquire is not only short-lived, but leaves a scar on our souls. Meanwhile it has done nothing to transform the offender. But when we do the counter-intuitive thing- when we do what God prescribes—leaving justice to him and meeting injustice with love— this is when we become those who overcome evil with good. Here is that Soul Force that can transform the offender from foe to friend, from enemy to brother, from foreigner to neighbor.
So this is our choice… Overcome or be overcome.
And so we daily… (maybe hourly?) remind ourselves “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind and with all thy strength” If we can do this then we can meet also the second greatest commandment which is “like unto it” “and love they neighbor as thyself…”