And why it’s destroying any hope of unity for our nation
I have read many things the past few days on social media. I have witnessed honest distress and confusion as well as mass hysteria and vitriolic rage at the recent executive order on immigration from the Middle East.
I have heard the question posed, What would Jesus do?
I’ve read quotes from the Statue of Liberty, Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, denouncing any wall that would keep anyone from entering our great country.
I understand the heartache. I do. It is hard to know how to love well, where to serve, and what to give of ourselves to others. We all struggle to balance our responsibility to our families and our children with our great love and compassion to the least of these who are in desperate need in every corner of the globe.
How do we live out the Micah 6:8 command to, “Act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?” Though it is a lifelong struggle, this is my guiding principle and the goal that I seek to model however imperfectly, and live out in my life.
Acting “justly” is defined by the King James Dictionary as, Conformity to law, justice or propriety; by right. The offender is justly condemned. The hero is justly rewarded, applauded or honored. 1. According to truth and facts. His character is justly described. 2. Honestly; fairly; with integrity; as, to do justly. 3. Properly; accurately; exactly. Mercy by definition implies, benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Lastly, the term “humility” denotes, freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one’s own worth. In theology, humility consists in lowliness of mind; a deep sense of one’s own unworthiness in the sight of God, self-abasement, penitence for sin, and submission to the divine will.
In this instance and in every situation in life, we will do well, we will find health as we seek to hold onto and pursue these three principles from Micah. Sadly, we live in a day of extremes. These extremes force us to believe the lie that if we hold one thing, that is the only virtue we can measure and pursue to the exclusion of all others. What is missing from our dialogue on immigration and on many other issues today is balance.
We are told often that if we are loving, we must only show love. We must cast aside any wisdom, any discernment, or justness. Likewise, we are taught that if we hold any virtues of truth, wisdom, etc., that we simply cannot be loving and compassionate, or show mercy to others. This is the great lie.
Dr. David Burns in his book “The Feeling Good Handbook,” a gold-standard in the field of psychology, discusses the danger of cognitive distortions and teaches individuals how to recognize and neutralize extreme “all-or-nothing”, “black-or-white” thoughts, as well as overgeneralizations, so that we can become balanced in our thinking and move forward in our lives in a non-reactive, thoughtful, productive way.
Not only do we use cognitive distortions in our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us, we use them in our perceptions of God as well. At times inclined to view the attribute of God we favor or with which we feel the most comfortable, we find ourselves ignoring or distorting the totality of God’s nature and His character.
We like to think of God as love. We feel comfortable with this attribute of His character, and indeed, He is love. Yet Scripture is clear, that God is also equally holy, just, merciful, and righteous. We cannot take Him or His character out of context and discover any truth, health, or wisdom for our lives.
The question becomes, Can we be loving, caring, compassionate individuals and have wise, thoughtful boundaries at the same time?
Is love and compassion mutually exclusive from wisdom and discernment?
Scripture commands us to be loving, to care for our neighbors, to serve the least of these. My prayer is that as Christ-followers we would lead the way in reaching out to be the hands and feet of Christ within our churches, our families, and our communities. I pray that we would move past the empty rhetoric we so widely hear from those around us who are first to protest and last to serve, first to riot and last to put their love into action; that we would live out the Great Commission because it is the call of our Master and we will do our best to serve Him faithfully.
I also pray that God would give us wisdom in equal measure, so that we will know where our love and compassion can be best utilized. I pray for discerning hearts and minds so that we can become passionate and purposeful in using our energies to serve others. I pray that we can know when our love isn’t loving, when our love has turned into enabling, or has become dangerous to others and ourselves. I pray we would in all of our actions, find the place where justice, mercy, and humility can exist and grow together.
Resist the temptation to abandon one virtue in our fervor for another. Find balance in your thoughts and your emotions as you pursue justness, mercy, and humility.
Matthew 10:16 (KJV) tells us, Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.
We can do both. We can hold the virtues of truth, justice, and wisdom together with love, mercy, and compassion. We can love wisely and well. We can. We must, if we are to find a path together, not only to heal the wounds of this great country, but to live out our life mission as Christ followers and spread the good news of salvation to every neighborhood and nation.
We can hold the virtues of truth, justice, and wisdom together with love, mercy, and compassion.Click To Tweet
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, coffee lover, and wife. My online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life. At heart, I am just a Southern girl who loves beautiful things, whether it is the beauty of words found in a deeply moving story, the beauty of a meal cooked with love, the beauty of a cup of coffee with a friend, or the beauty seen in far away landscapes and cultures. I have fallen passionately in love with the journey and believe it is among the most beautiful gifts to embrace and celebrate. While I grew up in the Florida sunshine, I live with my husband just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN.
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In my new book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with herself, God and with others. Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!
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