December 8, 2016 – Thursday
Romans 13:4(b) [ASV] But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil.
Matthew 5:7; 21-22(a) 5:44(b)[ASV] Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment … Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy … Love your enemies
A man will die tonight. Not by accident. Not in war. Not by protecting his neighbors. He will die by the state. The man committed murder, and by law the judgement is execution. Tonight the state bears the sword and becomes a minister of God.
Yet it’s really a handful of individuals who will put this man to death. Public servants – Christian public servants. Each knows the law and, more importantly, each knows scripture. A murderer has been judged, and the final step in that judgment comes at their hands. Each will personally bear the sword, and each will intimately be a minister of God – an avenger for the evil done.
But these individuals also understand the complexity of scripture. Anger is murder. Mercy from Him comes from mercy toward others. And He commands each to love the enemy. So tonight these Christian public servants will reckon, with great difficulty, the balance between the sword and Him. And after killing, each will go home wondering if the reckoning is right.
Public service is the most difficult career. Many will leave work today wondering, in their own jobs, if the reckoning is right. And it gets no easier when you are a Christian public servant. Regardless of task, did you do what is expected – by the agency and by Jesus?
Today at work, you may not be one who uses the sword. But you will struggle to do what is right. Please remember the handful of individuals who will be the sword tonight. For like you in your workplace, they also wonder in their workplace if the reckoning is right.
For a man will die tonight – and following Jesus is not easy.
Father God, as I struggle doing what is expected in my own workplace, bless those who suffer the consequences of my acts. Give me strength to seek guidance from all of Your Word – not just the morsels that make me feel comfortable or cling to my ways. Help me keep the reckoning right with Jesus. In His name, I pray. Amen.
James D. Slack, Ph.D., Ph.D.
Department of Public Policy & Administration
Jackson State University
Jackson, Mississippi, USA