“‘They were my brothers, the sons of my mother! As the LORD lives, if only you had let them live, I would not kill you.’ Turning to his only son, he said ‘Kill them!’ But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid.” Judges 8:19-20.
Where on earth did our God-focused servant go? You know and I know…he went to that place where every one of us goes when someone has wounded us or the ones we love. Gideon doled out his treatment of others based on their actions …conditional grace…a spirit of entitlement…an attitude of retaliation. Our spiritual hero crumbled into self-appointed judge. To make matters worse he poured out his bitterness and resentment in front of his young child attempting to pull him into his courtroom as executioner. ‘Yahweh’s directives are no longer Gideon’s primary concern. He is now making decisions based on the actions of others. What the kings had done become the stimulus for what he will choose to do. Gideon is driven forward not by the voice of God but by his past pain and emotional devastation.’ Gideon, p. 142. There are so many things wrong with this picture, and yet we find ourselves feeling a little uncomfortable at this juncture of our story.
Why? Because before we even finished the last paragraph most likely someone popped into our mind. We thought of that person who did not keep their word or the person who intentionally hurt our child. We thought of the child who rebelled against their parent or the adult who turned their back on our loved ones. The actions or non-actions of others cannot determine the amount of grace we extend to them. If that were the case, not one of us would be bound for eternity. We are the only ones who appoint ourselves as judge over another. We stack our case against others and build a legal brief that could bring down nations…but instead we are ones that risk being brought down. God will not allow us to rule our own self-made nations as Daniel 2:20-21 states. ‘Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them.’
Jesus made it very clear in Luke 6:37-38 when talking about judging others. ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’
Lord, forgive our judgmental spirits and release us from our self-appointed roles. Remind us that Christ had every right to judge the actions of others and yet He chose Your focus. He did your work and crawled up on that cross and died so that we are eternity bound. In your precious name, Amen.
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