Give the Gift of Courage & Justice!
Give the Gift of Courage & Justice!
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Don’t be Deceived
A thread that weaves its way through scripture from Genesis to Revelation is the sad story of deception. From the fall of man through Adam and Eve to the final persecution of the people of God, and from the forbidden fruit at the very beginning to the final straw at the end of it all, the Bible clearly shows that when we take our eyes off our Heavenly Father, we are prone to being deceived and going astray.
Being deceived takes many forms, and comes in many shapes and sizes. One way we are deceived, indeed when we deceive ourselves, is when we allow our quest for justice, which is honorable and noble, to inflict undue pain and suffering on the object of our “righteous” indignation.
There is a specific reason the subtitle of this book is, “A Journey Through Restoration with Dignity.” True justice is not the advantage of the stronger. The ends do not justify the means.
No matter how serious the wrong, when we unmercifully seek revenge against those who have hurt us, we become no better than they are…and in most cases we become far worse. Friend, don’t be deceived into thinking that the injustice you experienced warrants the abuse of another human being.
In so many ways, deception is a choice. When we choose to be wise in our own eyes, we are far more apt to being led away and led astray.
How do we avoid the road to destruction and stay on the path of righteousness?
First, don’t mock God. He remains on His throne. Second, understand that what you sow in the flesh you will reap in the flesh. Third, when you walk in the Spirit you will live by the Spirit. Fourth, never grow weary of doing good. Fifth, be kind and merciful to everyone, and don’t be afraid to go out of your way to show an extra measure of grace to fellow believers, even those who have hurt you.
Finally, don’t be deceived. The sin of Satan is real, but so is the holiness of God. Friend, don’t be deceived! Grant restoration with dignity even to those who have hurt you.
“Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.” Galatians 6:7–10
~Philip William Calvert
The year was 1995. It was an otherwise typical year, though it stands out in my mind for two significant reasons. First, I was a newly-married graduate student living in Reykjavík, Iceland. I was there as a Fulbright Scholar pursuing my doctorate in Political Science with concentrations in American Government, Comparative Politics, and International Relations.
Though I was living near the Arctic Circle, I gravitated to news from around the world, which leads to the second indelible memory of that year. In the midst of my dissertation research and our European adventures, I was closely following the reports about something rather fascinating and inspiring occurring on the other end of the globe.
The one-time dissident, Nelson Mandela, who had spent some 27 years in prison for his opposition to the injustices of apartheid, was helping to establish a path toward national and racial reconciliation.
This was a daunting task, as apartheid had been used as a lever of systemic and systematic racism and oppression in South Africa for 300 years. Mr. Mandela had been granted his freedom in 1990 by President F. W. de Klerk, and in those five years it was becoming increasingly obvious that he was no ordinary statesman. Mandela was attempting, and would achieve, something stunningly amazing. He set out, with the help of many other visionaries, to peacefully bring South Africa into the community of modern nations. It was a huge task. He was up to the challenge.
I watched from the vantage point of an island nation in the North Atlantic to see what would become of the valiant effort to peacefully transition South African society from one of overt racial discrimination to one of economic, political, and social inclusiveness. The future, indeed the soul, of the nation was at stake.
In one of the best examples of seeking justice through restoration with dignity the world has ever seen, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was envisioned, created, and implemented. The TRC was established in 1995 with the explicit goal of leading South Africa through an intentional process of information gathering and sharing that would result in a clearer understanding of the many injustices committed by numerous individuals and groups between 1960 and 1994. It was a process fraught with tremendous challenges, hurdles, and obstacles. Nonetheless, those intrepid justice warriors persevered and rose to the occasion.
Many human rights violations were uncovered, and victims and perpetrators alike contributed their own stories to the overall narrative of the tragic events that had regrettably transpired. As evidence of the incredible change that was already taking place, Nelson Mandela had been elected President of South Africa in 1994. He served in that capacity until 1999. The TRC, despite its imperfections, had the desired effect in that South Africa peacefully transitioned from apartheid to a representative democratic nation.
It was an incredible effort that showed the world that a nation could emerge from such incredible oppression with its heart and soul intact. The work of the TRC, and Nelson Mandela’s wisdom in pursuing a path of restoration with dignity, made a lasting impression on me as a political scientist, missionary, pastor, professor, and father.
The TRC remains the gold standard of national and interpersonal conflict resolution and restoration in the midst of unspeakable violations of the dignity and rights of our fellow human beings.
Today there is yet a great deal of injustice in the world, whether it be social, racial, economic, or political. The following devotionals are written to help remind us that justice is a human imperative, and that true justice is seen in restraint far more often than in retribution. Restraint is natural and organic. Retribution is contrived and forced, thereby leading to further victimization and revenge. Justice is not the advantage of the stronger, as famously stated by Thrasymachus in Plato’s Republic.
The Word of God conclusively shows that justice ultimately is in the Lord’s hands, which is where it rightly belongs. Nonetheless, when we love others as we love ourselves, we discover that justice is a gift from God, and that we can achieve it if we pursue it His way.
This 40-day devotional is written to help each of us journey through the bitter betrayal, disappointment, and pain of injustice. Do not repay evil with evil. Rather, may you find healing and restoration with dignity.
~Philip William Calvert
Most of us have known people who suffered tremendous injustice at the hands of others. The humiliation and pain inflicted upon them is staggering, and sometimes beyond human comprehension. In so many ways it defies logic that people would be so cruel and vindictive toward others.
Yet, despite incredible odds, many of those who are subjected to unspeakable injustice have managed to not only overcome the insults and slights, but have thrived because of them!
It is to all those who have overcome great odds, and who have maintained their dignity, grace, and humanity, that I dedicate this book. Indeed, human society would be far more capable of flourishing if we followed the lead of those who fully appreciate and understand the value of justice, for through these people we see moments of restoration with dignity between offender and offended, perpetrator and victim.
Posthumously to Mr. Nelson Mandela, one of my heroes of modern statecraft, and to all those who have both pursued and set the gold standard of genuine justice, as well as those that desperately seek restorative justice in a very angry, broken, fallen, and hurting world, I dedicate this book. You are shining examples of the gift of justice. May the Lord greatly use their genuine example for His glory.
~Philip William Calvert