Daily D – Exodus 22:26-27
If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as collateral, return it to him before sunset. For it is his only covering; it is the clothing for his body. What will he sleep in? And if he cries out to me, I will listen because I am gracious. EXODUS 22:26-27 (CSB)
Exodus is a book about justice, property rights, ethical behavior, and doing the right thing the right way for the right reason in the right time. It is all this and more. It is also about treating people with grace, mercy, kindness, and compassion.
God is concerned about resident aliens. He is concerned about neighbors who are down to nothing but the clothes on their backs. He wants all people to take the right lead measures in all things to get the right outcomes in almost all cases. There will be exceptions always. He has guidance for the exceptions as well.
The most important guideline may be what God says here. “I will listen because I am gracious.” God knows. God sees. God hears. God truly listens. God responds. When he acts and responds, he acts and responds with grace.
When we find ourselves in a tough spot and do not know what to do, we do well to err on the side of grace. Some things are right and wrong, black and white. Many, if not most, situations are one shade of gray or another. When we struggle to decide if that gray is more black or more white, the benefit of the doubt should be on the side of white.
If God can put up with problem people over decades, so can we. If God can change the hearts of even the most recalcitrant of acquaintances, we can wait a little longer for people to have that opportunity for themselves. Stopping to reflect just now, it dawns on me that on many occasions, one person or another has erred on the side of grace with me.
Some people like to point out that Hammurabi’s Code is a lot like what God gives Moses and Israel. They are similar in that they are both law codes. However, in the Hammurabi Code, there was the equivalent of the death penalty for parking tickets. You can look it up. There was no grace. There was no mercy. There was no compassion.
I double-dog dare you to read through the statutory and case laws of Exodus and come to the same conclusions. Again and again, God talks about mercy, compassion, grace, and means of forgiveness and restitution. There is no death penalty for parking tickets.
You will have an opportunity soon to take a pound of flesh or to err on the side of grace. One of these makes you more like God. One of these demonstrates his effect on your life. One of these gives you the opportunity to live in peace going forward. The wise choice is to err on the side of grace, even if you may have to do it again and again.
I will err on the side of grace.
Our Father, you have been more gracious to me than I will ever have to be with anyone else. Empower me to err on the side of grace as long as it is grace to do so. I need your grace to make this happen. I know you love to give this kind of healing grace to all who ask because you are gracious. Amen.
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Leviticus 19:32-34 “Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord. “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”