September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute. If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it. You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute. Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked. And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous.”—Exodus 23:1–8 (NKJV)
God is laying down the law, literally! After rescuing His people out of the evil clutches of Egypt, He now leads them out of the evil clutches of themselves. That’s because sin is a problem that follows us everywhere we go! Evil wasn’t just an issue in Egypt because the propensity to do evil is an issue that is rooted in the human heart. So, as part of His great work on behalf of the children of Israel, the Lord gives them a series of laws intended to govern their behavior and ultimately point them to His heart and nature, which was to be the basis for their whole society. That’s where we’re at as we come to the section of Scripture above and if we take a closer look, we’ll notice a reoccurring theme that we need to know.
He starts by forbidding His people from starting and spreading false reports. Next, He warns against giving a false testimony against someone because to do so would be to pervert justice. Then, God commands them to never show partiality against someone who happens to be poor. After this, He tells them to watch out for the property of their enemies and to never take advantage of them. Again, God warns against oppressing someone unjustly because they are poor and vulnerable. And finally, the Lord admonishes His people to never be influenced by bribes when they are entrusted with making just judgments.
Do you see the theme? All of these commandments address the evil inclination of the human heart to take advantage of people and situations. Taking a bribe, giving false witness, and leveraging the vulnerable are all instances of doing what might be expedient or convenient, but not right or just! And God makes it crystal clear that He always wants His people to do what’s right and just, not what’s expedient or convenient.
So, carry this principle over to your life now. When have you been tempted to cross this spiritual line—to turn a blind eye here or there, to accept something in return for a lie, to keep quiet about the truth, or to treat someone less than you should have on the basis of their being more vulnerable than you? When have you compromised what’s right for the sake of convenience?
We’re all guilty to some extent, whether in deed or in thought. However, God is able to cleanse this ugly aspect in us by opening our eyes to it and fortifying our hearts with His Spirit so we’ll say “no” to the very thought of these things and say “yes” to His values. We need to do things because they’re right, not convenient—whether at work, school, home, or anywhere else in life. But it takes nothing less than the indwelling Spirit of God to empower us to make the real-life decisions that aren’t easy, but that are right. Spirit, give us all of You so we can live like You!
Pause: What core principle is revealed in the laws listed above?
Practice: Consider where this principle is being tested in your life right now and what is needed in order for you to pass this test.
Pray: Father, mold me into a person who always cares more about doing what’s right and just than what’s expedient or convenient. Fill me with Your Spirit so I can live out Your heart for me and others. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.