17You may think you have won
your case in court,
until your opponent speaks.
18Drawing straws is one way
to settle a difficult case.
19Making up with a friend
you have offended
is harder than breaking
through a city wall.
What a selfish, vengeful, adversarial world we live in!
We are so determined to demand our rights, prove our point, get what’s ours, or make sure that the person who has harmed us is punished that lawyers need never fear going hungry.
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who’s to blame? And especially, who is going to pay?
The hero of every cop show sooner or later squints at the criminal and, through gritted teeth, utters with relish the miscreant’s sentence: “You’re going to spend the rest of your life behind bars.”
It may make for fascinating television, but it’s no way to live. The self-righteousness of it, for sinners like you and me, is breathtaking. Have you ever noticed that the politicians who get caught in morally compromising situations are often the ones who have prattled loudly and at length about family values and strict punishment for wrongdoers?
Who are we, you and I, to demand fairness, or, God forbid, justice, when what we really need is mercy? How then can we not readily extend it to others?
Instead of insisting that my way is the right way, and therefore I must have my way at any cost (to others), wisdom calls me to make peace. Wisdom requires that I seek a solution, rather than to win. Wisdom reminds me that the person on the other side of the issue is also beloved of God, a brother or sister who also needs mercy.
Instead of building a wall, I need to build a bridge.
God of mercy, God of grace, I rest my sorry case before you. May I delight in your forgiveness, and extend it to those who have offended me. Help me find solutions instead of insisting on having my own way. In the name of Jesus, through whom I am forgiven.