Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Positive Moral Loss

“Why, the very fact of your having lawsuits with one another [with brothers and sisters in Christ] at all is a defect (a defeat, an evidence of POSITIVE MORAL LOSS for you). Why not rather let yourselves suffer wrong and be deprived of what is your due? Why not rather be cheated (defrauded and robbed)?” (1 Corinthians 6:7 AMPC).

What?!—no justice?  Yep.  You see, justice can only be measured against the measurement we use on others, and therefore, its eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth model of justice can never remove us from the vicious cycle of violence it inherently promotes.  The new covenant in His blood is based on better promises, and whereas justice dominated the old covenant, mercy now dominates the new one.  Jesus Himself said it plainly, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.  Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:38-41 NAS).  These are exactly the words of Christ that Paul must have referenced when speaking to the Corinthians regarding positive moral loss.

It is noteworthy that God’s requirements of man begins with justice, ends with humility, and is, at the center, about mercy: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8 KJV).  Justice is therefore the floor, humility the roof, and mercy, the furnishings of the home; the foundation of justice supports the vaulted ceiling of humility that covers and protects a home filled “with all good things which you did not fill” (Deuteronomy 6:11).  Justice is therefore the premise of morality, and humility its crowning achievement, but mercy is the lifeblood of both.  Try to do justly without a genuine love of mercy at the core of your being; I would suggest—that although technically possible to do so—in practical application, justice served cold and merciless is inhuman and therefore not justice at all.  Indeed, “Judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy”—moreover—“mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

Ultimately, this idea of turning the other cheek and suffering loss, of allowing others to defraud and cheat us, requires not only eyes to see the bigger picture, but a settled conviction that God has something better for us tomorrow that requires we relinquish something good today.  Indeed, good is the enemy of better, and better the enemy of best.  Justice now on terms that satisfy our expedient needs, or mercy now which wipes the horizon clean and meets our eternal needs; what do we choose?  Of course, to choose mercy over judgment might require our faith in God to be stretched, because justice delayed is justice denied, right?  Wrong!  We exist in God’s economy, not ours.  In His economy, delays are not delays, but displays of mercy.  “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 2:8-9).

Let no evidence of positive moral loss be made against you.  Indeed, “make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian (those who turn the other cheek and allow themselves to be plundered), he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.  Those...who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Peter 4:15-16, 19).  Ironically, moral loss seems to be in direct proportion to material gain or retention; when we give material things away and “entrust [our] souls to a faithful Creator” we are making deposits into an eternal account “where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).  Pay no mind to what you lose in this lifetime; everything you lose is lost into His hands anyways (and is therefore never really lost but secured forever).  Paul said it best: “I...suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).