Fair Treatment and Right Action
Open Your Bible
Deuteronomy 19:1-21, Deuteronomy 20:1-20, Matthew 5:38-42
At four months old, my second daughter was so pleasant we nicknamed her “Happy Girl.”
My husband and I were also happier by the day as we returned to normal rhythms, leaving the fog of sleepless nights behind. But despite her agreeable disposition, Natalie’s skin was far from normal. Angry red patches erupted on her once perfect complexion; now, rough, scaly patches covered her legs and arms.
Though I desperately wanted her eczema to go away, our pediatrician’s solution shocked me in its severity. “You need to eliminate dairy from your diet,” she stated emphatically. “And since it’s impossible to know which dairy protein she’s sensitive to, you’ll need to cut all of it out.”
My head reeled from that pronouncement; I Internet-searched, sighed, mumbled, and even cried a little. (Yes, I love cream in my coffee that much.) Because your body can take weeks to process dairy, the challenge before me was daunting. There would be no sneaking a bite or two of ice cream, no simply “reducing my dairy intake”—I was purging my system of an entire food group. The very definition of a purge is to “expel something completely” and without exception.
In Deuteronomy 19, the Israelites are given a similarly strict, unequivocal instruction themselves as they prepare to settle into a more established way of life in the promised land. But their instruction wasn’t to purge an allergen from their diets. At the end of this chapter, they are told they “must purge the evil” from among them (v.19). This same command is also employed in verse 13.
Here the Lord gave the nation of Israel a directive that required they take a serious stance on the existence of evil. To do this, they had to submit to God as their ultimate authority. Verse 17 explains the deliberations in this way: “The two people in the dispute are to stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and judges in authority at that time.”
Living in the presence of the Lord changes us and our allegiances. Rather than show pity or rationalization toward sinful behavior, we are to live in joyful obedience to the Lord, leaving sin behind—in doing so, “[we] will prosper” in the presence of and in relationship with our God (v.13).
“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). Obedience to the Lord requires unequivocal commitment and a total rejection of sin; those who belong to God are called to cut sin out of our lives as we pursue holiness instead (Matthew 5:48). In the Lord’s goodness, wisdom, and sovereignty, He calls those who follow Him to live lives of fair treatment of others and right action.