I woke up a few days ago with two pictures on my mind and the scripture ‘mercy triumphs over judgement’. I have been sitting in the story of Joseph and have reached the part where Joseph chooses to invite his brothers and their families to come and live in Egypt.
Joseph has many different arenas of his life playing out at this point of his story. He is a husband, a dad, a priminister, a home owner, a negotiator, a leader. None of these roles get put on hold while he engages with his brothers and navigates this collision of his past, with his present and his future.
Our Christmas tree is up… a massive statement to me, that I have made it to December in one piece and that the demand on my soul is about to be stretched. It is a reminder that I am already intensely involved in a schedule I did not necessarily carve out for myself intentionally.
I am a people person, I am also called to live in relationship and community. That is before we add ‘Christmas’ to the list – a season which is’meant’ to be ‘joyful joyful’ and focussed on the ‘reason for the season’ and all that jazz… Every ozzie mum knows it is not just about Christmas… it is also a whole lot about many others things that coincide with this time of the year.
We have school, kinda or dance group breakups, recitals, staff parties, graduation ceremonies, (yep my son is graduating from primary school so please add to the list ‘shopping for smart shirts that don’t include a basketball logo’…and the list goes on and on and on….
You get why God is speaking to me before my feet hit the ground in the morning and this message this week is so what I needed to hear.
As I navigate the people side of my roles and the crazy of all the end of year jazz…mum, wife, friend, colleague, family member, pastor, carer, nurturer, pastor, carer, Aunty, sister, acquaintance, and even stranger in a queue or crowd…these two pictures bear great significance. These roles whatever they are, are roles of authority and require me to execute sound judgement, wise choices, healthy responses and clear decisions. They require me to be astute, discerning and present. They require varying degrees of leadership, authority and intelligence. I feel the weight of the roles I play and can feel the ease in which I slip out of intentionality into default and unintentional self preservation. I love that God knows me well and has prepared me not only to deal with the months behind me but the days ahead.
I have been sitting in the story of Joseph and am right where he is revealing himself to his brothers and about to invite them and his family to come live in Egypt, at least until the famine is over…instead of keeping his distance he invites them to come close!! These are the same family who have betrayed hurt, offended and sold him out. These are the brothers who stood in agreement together as the camel headed off to Egypt with a young boy full of dreams and broken heart, no longer protected, favoured or provided for by his Father. Now he stands in a position of authority and chooses to invite them into his world and use his authority to bless them and pour his grace and provision over their lives.
The images I got were that of a septre and the other is a gavel. I see myself in any one of these roles using both the sceptre and the gavel to execute my decisions and judgement. These tools are both important symbols connected to the roles I play and the authority I carry. I have to administer these roles with deliberate and intentional execution. The septre and the gavel are tools I need to use everyday.
It is a tool held in the hand of the king. It is mentioned in the book of Esther when Esther goes to meet the king knowing he may execute her for coming uninvited. She is looking for the sceptre to be extended. An extended sceptre is a sceptre of invitation, welcome. In my hand it represents MERCY.
A gavel is a wooden hammer used in a court of law by the judge. It is the judge who uses it to bring a judgement in a court case. It is what the judge uses to execute and uphold the law of the jurisdiction over which the judge presides. A gavel represents JUDGEMENT.
As I have been meditating on Jospeh’s role and my own responsibilities in my own roles of authority, my own jurisdiction and ‘kingdom’, both tools are needed. I can’t just use a sceptre or just use a gavel. It is not about either mercy or judgement…it is mercy AND judgement…but the challenge for my heart is to err on the side of a Mercy, to use my sceptre more than I would my gavel. What do my kids get most: a septre or a gavel, mercy or judgement?
What about my hubby? My colleagues? My friends? Those who are needing counsel? Those in a queue at a store or the cexpecting a sceptre to be extended not a gavel to be pounded on the table. When is it right to withhold mercy?
There are several things that these tools suggest to me..
If everyone of us has been given the choice to use a sceptre or a gavel…there will be many people in my life who have or will err on the side a gavel and there will be many who do not extend a sceptre to me. I can not control what they use, I can only control my own sceptre or gavel.
There are times when I have used my gavel and those who love me have felt to do the same. Any time I choose a gavel it will release gavel users rather than sceptre extenders. If I want to reproduce mercy I must show mercy. I want there to be a flow on effect of mercy not a flow on effect of judgement. Sometimes my sceptre must be extended so that other gavel users will choose a septer instead.
If someone does not agree with me or is different to me, or has used a gavel on me then I am tempted to use a gavel on them but I have a sceptre I can use. I do not need to use the gavel. It is the world that tells ‘do not judge’ and ‘show no mercy’ . Both have been given to me to help menacing are my circumstances and my emotions. If God is asking me to use the septre more, it does not mean that a gavel is not useful. But many times we use a sceptre when we should be using a gavel and we use a gavel when we should be using a sceptre. Mercy is a preferred biblical option.
I find some people are easier to extend a sceptre to than others.
I want to use the gavel when I can not sense that God will use his gavel properly or in my timing. Using my gavel is often a symptom of my lack of trust in God’s role as judge.
I want to use the gavel and withhold my sceptre to protect myself and when I don’t feel God will protect me. My use of my gavel and septre are often based on my trust or struggle with trust that God will vindicate.
If I am to discern how to use my sceptre I have a perfect example … The gospel is a story of mercy.
If I am to make a good judgements and wise and healthy decisions it must be through my own experience found at the mercy seat.
If I must use a gavel , is it my jurisdiction or am I using someone else’s gavel in someone else’s court. If I find myself a witness it does not make me the judge.
When judgement has been my default position, I must wrestle against using it as my go to. I must err on the side of sceptre / mercy.
Do I have to feel merciful to show mercy?
When others are at the mercy of my gavel and cannot see my mercy does it mean I am not merciful?
When I can not feel God’s mercy, does it mean he is not merciful?
When I look at the merciful side of God’s character, I can see that it is just as strong as his justice and judgement side. God is just, he is righteous judge and he is merciful.
My access to God and the relationship I have with him is completely because of his mercy. His judgment is based not on what I can do but on what Christ has done to meet the requirements of the law.
Mercy triumphs over judgement. My gift of discernment is not so I can show off my gavel but rather I can know whether a sceptre or a gavel is the best tool to use in a given situation. If in doubt ..Mercy triumphs over judgement. If in pain err on the side of mercy, if offended err on the side of mercy, if I am listening to someone.
Regardless of who I am interacting with it takes fairh to use s septre. Is my mercy conditional? Am I waiting to receive mercy before I give mercy.
I can trust that even if I use the sceptre when I should have used a gavel…my Judge will execute his grace and vindicate me because I have used mercy. If I choose mercy I will be granted mercy … Not from people but from God .
The Bible has a lot to say about mercy and judgement.
‘Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.’ This suggests that it takes me to show mercy , to receive it. When I withhold mercy I withhold blessing from my own life.
‘Mercy triumphs over judgement’
Hebrews 4:16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
I can approach the throne with confidence…knowing the sceptre is extended towards me and I knowing that when I come I will find mercy and grace to help me in my time of need.
When others approach me do they have the confidence and boldness that comes from knowing I have a track record of mercy.
This Christmas, I am aware that the people in my world need mercy and not judgment…the whole story of Christmas is the story of God’s mercy.
One day we will stand before him as Judge but he is my judge now and when he uses the gavel it is played out from the story of his grace and mercy. The accuser stand ready waiting for judgement to put me away and instead I walk free because mercy triumphs over judgement but judgement must still be made. He took my place.. The mercy seat is covered with his blood. He will vindicate me and he is my judge and jury. I can extend a sceptre because he extended a sceptre to me. If I have received mercy I can extend it.
This season will push and pull on my character and heart and I will be tempted to not only protect my heart but make poor judgements based on the demand rather than God’s supply. .I will find myself sitting next to people with my mercy filter on , listening to others who are quick to judge and demand I join them in my role as judge but my name is merciful and I have a septre. I must choose mercy.
When I hear slander, gossip, criticism, sarcasm , lies and assumption , negativity , I have a gavel and can execute sound judgement by refusing to extend a septre to what is unmerciful behaviour.
James 2:13 says ‘There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.’
Mercy triumphs over judgement.
Faith into action … Let’s Go!!!