No Bank Account For Good Deeds

No Bank Account For Good Deeds

Ezekiel 33:17-20

“Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just. When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this. Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”

These verses speak to me on a couple of levels.

First, the idea of justice.

Ezekiel talks about the Israelites complaining that God’s justice, or the balance of the universe, doesn’t fit their idea of justice.  I’ve written before about this and the fact that my idea of justice and someone else’s idea of justice are probably two different things.  And so the Israelites say in verse 17, what most of us say today when something happens to us, or others, that we don’t understand.  We say, “There is no justice” and then question God and even God’s existence.  We do this on the basis of things not going the way we thought they should go.  We look to blame something outside of us for what happened.

God answers these petty accusations very effectively:

…when it is their own way that is not just.

Ezekiel and God are talking about personal responsibility, and each of us owning up to and realizing that we are responsible for our actions.  We must face up to the fact that we are responsible for the consequences of our actions.  The perceived injustice of the world, is the injustice we have created and served upon ourselves.

God does not inflict grief upon man.  Man inflicts grief upon man.

In verses 18 and 19, Ezekiel speaks of God’s balance. When the righteous do evil they suffer their grief.  There are no mulligans, or a reserved bank account of good deeds to excuse the evil act and eliminate the consequences.  And vice versa.

Second, each act stands on its own.

This is the third time I have written about this.  This truth is conveyed a number of times in the writings of Ezekiel.

Each act, each decision has its own consequence based on the act.  Every act and decision stands on its own.  If a plane makes 1000 trips without incident, that will not eliminate a catastrophe if the pilot makes a bad decision.  The 1000 safe and non-eventful flights do not somehow make the laws of physics and aerodynamics over look this lapse in judgement.  The consequences of a bad decision will be experienced.

Every action stands on its own.  That is what God and Ezekiel are telling us in verse 20.

I will judge each of you according to his ways.

This is personal responsibility. They are telling us that each of us stands alone, every one of our actions stands alone.  If you do twenty wonderful and righteous things during the course of the day and then do one evil act, the twenty do not cancel out the one.  The consequences of the evil act will still be suffered.

God and Ezekiel are letting us know we are responsible for our actions.  Each and every action is judged by itself.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It’s Not For Your Pleasure

It’s Not For Your Pleasure

Proverbs 24:17-18

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,

and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,

lest the Lord see it and be displeased,

and turn away his anger from him.

I read these verses and thought about how they fit into the theme of why does God let bad things happen to good people and vice versa.  It also goes along with the whole balance of the universe and eventually, on God’s terms, there is a price to pay for sin.

Job questioned it throughout the Book of Job.  He wondered why a good and righteous man such as himself, could have such horrible events happen to him.  Remember Job lost all his possessions, which were extensive He lost his entire family except for his wife.  Job questioned because he looked around and saw the wicked man living in the lap of luxury, while committing sins and having the time of his life. Continue reading

A Time To Respond

A Time To Respond

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Those born in the 1950’s certainly recognize these verses as part of a Pete Seeger song made famous by The Byrds, Turn Turn Turn.  The song has been touted as an anti-war song.  King Solomon was not writing a song for the “peace movement” when composing these eight verses.  King Solomon was reminding us about the balance of the universe.  Continue reading

Strengthening Your Righteousness Muscle

Strengthening Your Righteousness Muscle

Jeremiah 12:1-4

Righteous are you, O Lord,
    when I complain to you;
    yet I would plead my case before you.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
    Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
You plant them, and they take root;
    they grow and produce fruit;
you are near in their mouth
    and far from their heart.
But you, O Lord, know me;
    you see me, and test my heart toward you.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
    and set them apart for the day of slaughter.
How long will the land mourn
    and the grass of every field wither?
For the evil of those who dwell in it
    the beasts and the birds are swept away,
    because they said, “He will not see our latter end.”

The English Standard Version of the Bible gives verses one through four the title: “Jeremiah’s Complaint”.  Some of the commentaries I have read about these verses state that this is not Jeremiah quarreling with God, or attempting to quarrel with God, but it is a plea.  I would say a plea for justice. Continue reading

The Beatitudes and The Woes – Balance

The Beatitudes and The Woes – Balance

Luke 6:20-26

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

I’ve known that the first half of these verses were called “The Beatitudes”, but never really knew the definition of the word “beatitude”.  So I looked it up. Continue reading

Just A Feel Good Word

Just A Feel Good Word

Lamentations 3:34-39

To crush underfoot
all the prisoners of the earth,
to deny a man justice
in the presence of the Most High,
to subvert a man in his lawsuit,
the Lord does not approve.

Who has spoken and it came to pass,
unless the Lord has commanded it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
Why should a living man complain,
a man, about the punishment of his sins?

When I read these verses, I am reminded of the arrogance of man and so is Jeremiah who wrote these lamentations for Israel.  I am reminded of the arrogance of people who assume that all justice is defined as they see it.  I am talking about the arrogance of  those who think that punishment is to be doled out to their own sense of revenge.  The assumption that they are the sole proprietors of making the determination of the punishment to fit the crime.  People believe they are the center of the universe and therefore the balance is of their doing and it is to be to their satisfaction.  But we are only a mere sub atomic particle in the infinity of space.

Justice is very subjective.  Continue reading