Monday 12/22/2014 6:55 AM
My assigned scripture today included the laws of justice and mercy found in Exodus 23:1-9. As I read them I thought about how appropriate they are for our modern world and, unfortunately, how often they are missing. “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness. Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit. … Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent. Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.”
As I read through the list I immediately thought of current events that illustrate each of the issues. False reports and misinformation are constantly leaked and propagated in our political processes by both Democrats and Republicans. Political spin-doctors take the news and mold it to fit their party’s point of view, truth be damned. Rabble-rousers hijack peaceful protests; turning crowds into frenzied, destructive, looting fanatics. “Illegal aliens” are blamed for many of the ills of our society but they are taken advantage of by those who do not pay a fair wage for work done. We are complicit in the injustice when we fail to stand up for them, choosing instead to benefit from cheaper prices for goods and services.
I found it interesting that one verse warns against showing favoritism to the poor in a lawsuit and the next verse warns against denying justice to the poor in their lawsuits. There are times in our judicial system when the poor cannot afford the high priced attorneys that are retained by large corporations or wealthy individuals, and suffer injustice as a result. There are other times when people feel sorry for the down and outers in our society and hold them to a different standard because of their standing. It seems like both scenarios are wrong.
The saddest part of this to me is that the Christian community should be at the vanguard of seeking after truth, justice and mercy for all people but too often we are the ones spreading misinformation, perverting justice and oppressing the foreigners. May God have mercy on us and help us to see the error of our ways.