Mercy, Justice, And Abortion

Anti-Christian_sign_in_Federal_Plaza_ChicagoChristians are often accused of being judgmental. I tend to think the people making the charge are reacting to a lack of compassion. It’s not that others think judging is so very wrong. They themselves are actually making a judgment when they say being judgmental is wrong.

Rather, it seems to me, people see Christians as unwilling to give a guy a break. Come on, they say, wait to have sex until you’re married? Give a guy a break! Or, You mean a guy can be faithful, a good father and provider, but you say he’s a sinner because he’s married to another guy? Come on, give him a break!

There are multiple problems here, the first being the notion that Christians are making the rules. Believers are not the ones inventing the no-sex-before-marriage standard. Or the no-homosexuality standard. Just like we didn’t come up with the no lying, gossiping, murdering, dishonoring of parents standards, either.

The second issue is that we can’t give a guy a break. We aren’t his judge. We get accused of being the judge because we report what the Judge has said about the matter of sin, but just like we don’t invent the rules, we don’t invent the punishment.

Third, we ourselves are under the same standards and don’t come out triumphant. We are no different when it comes to sin than anyone else. James says this clearly:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (2:10-11)

In short, there isn’t a single person who doesn’t fall into the category of “guilty of all” because we have all stumbled in one point, or more. If it’s more, we aren’t any more guilty of all than if we stumbled only once. Either way, we’re guilty of all.

So Christians are not better than abortion providers or those in the business of selling fetal tissue. At various times, when listing different sins, the Apostle Paul would add, And such were some of you.

This is true of women who have had abortions. I know women, and have heard about women, who have had abortions, only to embrace Christ and renounce their past actions. Take Norma McCorvey, for example, the “Jane Roe” in the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the US. She is now a Christian who stands for life.

Norma McCorvey is just like the people Paul addressed: “such were some of you.” But so am I and so are we all. If we haven’t committed the particular sins in Paul’s list, we’ve committed others. There simply is no one out from under the burden of sin.

Is that admission hateful or judgmental? Hardly! It’s the first step toward escape. When we admit our sin, we can embrace our Savior.

Then as people who have been forgiven, we can extend forgiveness and compassion to others.

I can’t forgive someone’s sin against God, however. I don’t have that power. I can’t acquit someone who has committed murder though he seeks forgiveness in the blood of Christ. God alone can forgive sins against Him. And He does.

He gave a great picture of the way this works when He ordained a religious ceremony with the Jews which required the release of a scapegoat. One goat would be sacrificed as a sin offering, depicting the fact that sin requires the shedding of blood which Christ freely gave, but another goat was released into the wilderness after the priest had laid hands on it, transferring to it the sins of the people and depicting Christ as the sin bearer who takes away the sins of the world.

God in Jesus Christ has made forgiveness available to all who believe.

But to those who don’t believe? They aren’t forgiven and we shouldn’t pretend they are. At the same time, they aren’t enemies. They may come to a realization of their sin later in life the way Norma McCorvey did. They are people for whom we should feel compassion. And empathy. Because we were such as they before we met Christ.

The difference, simply put, is Jesus. Without Him, deserved justice. With Him, unqualified mercy.

We who have received such mercy, how can we not extend mercy to others? No, we can’t wipe away their sins, but we can love them the way Jesus loves. We can forgive them their offenses against us, we can serve them and pray for them and refuse to write them off as a lost cause. No one is a lost cause. God alone gets to separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats. And He is perfectly just as well as perfectly merciful.

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Published in: on September 2, 2015 at 5:33 pm  Comments (14)  
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14 Comments

  1. Well said. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice, balanced post. I think some Christians fear if they show compassion, that they will be seen as supporting sin. However, condemnation will rarely lead a nonbeliever to Christ. But love will. If we could love like Jesus did–dining with the low life, showing compassion to the fallen–they may see the light of God shining through and want what we have. Once they find God, the Holy Spirit will guide them and will show them what needs to change. To expect them to change first and then find Christ is getting the cart before the horse. And it only makes them more bitter toward Christians and less likely to find God. As you say, we who have received mercy should also extend mercy to others.

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    • Thanks for your input, Susan. I think you might be right about the reason some Christians withhold compassion. But we ought to be looking at the horse first, as you so aptly said. It’s when Christ changes us that we can live in His righteousness. Any attempt at man-made righteousness in order to be good enough to approach God is simply backwards.

      Becky

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  3. Ah very nice Becky. You make so many good points. We can’t sugarcoat a person’s situation with regard to God and their sin, but we sure can try to do better so it doesn’t come across as our rules we are talking about, but God’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I was a teacher, I had a principal who had us post classroom rules and consequences at the beginning of the school year. From then on, I could actually commiserate with students who had to experience those consequences, even though I’d set them. Because they knew what would happen as a result of their disobedience, I didn’t look as if I had it out for them or had suddenly come up with a harsh payment for their behavior, or that I made up that rule just to get them in trouble.

      In the same way, God has given us His word so we will know what His standards are. And He wants believers to make His ways clear, not so that others will feel caught but warned. Preaching about sin and the wages of sin is an important part of spreading the gospel, but “all that hell-fire-and-brimstone preaching” feel into disrepute early in the twentieth century. Too bad. We don’t do anyone any favors by glossing over sin.

      At the same time, we don’t do anyone any favors by acting as if their sin makes us made at them. It’s simply not about us at all.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for these good words.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good post again. I know for myself, if I really wanted to follow the Lord ‘in my own eyes’ I would have made the commandments “shorter” and “easier” to follow. This is completely ‘tongue in cheek’ of course but God does call us to standards. We didn’t make ’em.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly!

      I think we want to go easy on others because we know our own tendency toward sin. How much easier life would be if we could do what we want! Or so it seems from our limited, sinful perspective. We don’t really have any idea how much God’s law saves us from grief if we obey what He’s said.

      But the point isn’t a pragmatic one. It’s a love one. Jesus said, if you love Me, you’ll keep My commandments.

      Preaching an obedience to His commandments to people who don’t love Him is futile. Rather, we need to share the good news and live out the love of God which He poured out so that others will find Him.

      Becky

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  6. Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very well said! We should love these girls who find themselves in difficult situations. Part of my church’s outreach is A Crisis Pregnancy Outreach, which offers sonograms, spiritual and physical care for mother’s who decide to keep their babies. They also have a wonderful open adoption program for those who decide to give their babies up for adoption. Adoption is the loving option. There are many places in the US like this one. Here is the link to CPO: https://www.crisispregnancyoutreach.org/
    I believe God wants us to give others grace as he has given us, not judgement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen, Dianna. I’m always encouraged when I learn of believers being a part in such an outreach. This is precisely what I think we as Christians should do! God’s continued blessings on you and your church for showing His love to those in need.

      Becky

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  8. Becky, you never cease to amaze me with your prolific eloquence. Your insightful messages do my heart good. I’m a fan of yours and your Master’s! 🙂

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