Our verse today speaks of the rights of the poor and who understands such things. It’s not the legal issues but compassion that the evil man doesn’t understand.
I have been told on MORE than one occasion that I have a legal mind. I understand the law and how to apply it. I’ve even been encouraged to seek education and employment in that field. Maybe someday. The thing about the law that intrigues me most is how it is supposed to be set up to help those who are in need, protect the innocent, maintain order, and ensure fairness across all aspects of justice.
Did you notice the phrase “supposed to be” in there? It’s in there for good reason. That reason being that the law doesn’t always do what it is set up to do. As long as man is involved in it, NOTHING will work exactly as it is intended. Evil people pervert the law and twist it to suit their purposes. Compassion, which is the very spirit of the laws we have, is removed by evil men. We see examples of this even with God’s Law.
Jesus had MANY run ins with the Pharisees and Sadducees regarding the Law. The religious leaders were looking for ANY reason they could find to stop Jesus’ work. They always got their head handed back to them though when Jesus looked to the spirit of the Law rather than the letter. Jesus used TRUE understanding of the Law whenever He went up against the religious leaders. Two examples that came quickly to my mind are both found in the book of Matthew.
In Matthew 23 Jesus gives probably His hardest ‘public punch’ to the religious leaders. Jesus pronounced seven woes against them. The part that came to my mind is when He told them how they perverted God’s Law by making it so heavy no one could live under it while exempting themselves from the heaviness of it. “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality. This was just the beginning of Jesus’ condemnation OF THEIR ACTIONS. He told the people to respect the office they held, but NOT to imitate their behavior. Their hands were soaked in the blood of the prophets and MORE! They would soon be soaked in His blood. Not as a covering for their sin but as a testament against them.
The second example that came to my mind is found in Matthew 15. This encounter started like so many others; with the Pharisees nit picking every little action they could find. Jesus’ disciples had apparently forgotten to do the ceremonial washing of their hands before eating. The section I was reminded of is when they tell their parents that anything they would have gained from them has been given to God instead. They twisted God’s words to justify dishonoring their parents and essentially abandoning them.
Both examples are grounded in the wicked not TRULY understanding the Law; not taking into their hearts. If they did, they would have known compassion for the people and not used the Law as a club against the very people it was intended to protect. A righteous man will be more concerned about justice being done than about condemnation. Sometimes what looks “wrong” in the letter of the law can actually be “appropriate” when the spirit of it is applied. Jesus’ disciples eating the heads of grain while going through the field on a Sabbath is a prime example. “No work on the Sabbath” verses “we are hungry and having a little fun with one another.”
What areas of your life do you need to reinsert your compassion into and let the letter of the law relax a bit? I think I need to remember this when I’m tempted to condemn my own self in some areas. A prime one being when I get so overwhelmed with the chores of the day that I don’t find time to sit down and formally read God’s word and write. I talk to Him often, especially on those days because of all I’m facing. It is my own interpretation of “breaking my promise” to Him that gets me feeling guilty. I have gotten less critical with myself in many areas. I’m a work in progress!
Father God, THANK YOU that You don’t beat me over the head with EVERY tiny rule and regulation. Thank You that You have helped me to have compassion on myself too. I have generally had a good deal of compassion for others. Help me keep that compassion in balance too Father. Sometimes I want to excuse all faults because of the story that goes along with their situation or behavior. Help me know how far to go with compassion and when to draw the lines of ‘rules’ in my interactions.
Thank You for the understanding You have given me in the area of law. Help me use it to benefit others and demonstrate Your love along the way.