Receiving a summons to appear in court, is a knee-quaking moment. The sheriff at my door seemed jaded and looked at me as if he believed me to be guilty of the crime represented in the envelope. I felt like a criminal.
Years ago, we unknowingly hired an unscrupulous lawyer to take care of some legal business for us. He handled the business satisfactorily, but his disorganization concerning billing and contracts led him to believe that we signed a contract for him to do further work for us. When he tried to bill us for work, we didn’t agree to, and he hadn’t done, we called repeatedly and explained to his part-time secretary that he was mistaken, and no such contract existed.
The foolish man insisted on suing us, and we appeared in court. As defendants. Suspected criminals. Our assigned judge asked if we minded him handling a couple bail cases before he proceeded with ours. Like we would say no? This provided more time to try to stop our hands from shaking.
Beefy sheriff’s deputies escorted two ridiculously large prisoners into the courtroom, both in hand and leg shackles, and seated them five feet away from us. All the movies and stories I knew about jailbreaks, prison shanks and such ran through my mind. I silently prayed while trying to appear unfazed by this terrifying development. We didn’t find this turn of events calming.
At that time, we felt no peace to spend more money on lawyers and Ken represented us himself before the judge. The smug look across the aisle, on the face of the lawyer representing our dishonest lawyer, made us question that decision. Truth isn’t always enough to prove innocence.
Quickly, it became clear how disorganized and mistaken our lawyer proved to be. No documents could be produced proving his case and we possessed many that proved ours. The judge scolded the representing lawyer and we enjoyed a David beats Goliath moment, as the judge ordered us to pay only our agreed-upon fee.
I recalled those feelings of terror in the courtroom, when I read through the book of Micah. A prophet to both Judah and Israel, Micah carried the message of God’s anger and impending judgement to sinful Jews. Chapter two reminded me of our plight as defendants along with all the stories I’ve encountered about people who’ve lost homes, businesses and savings through fraud.
“Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud a man of his home, a fellowman of his inheritance” (Micah 2:1-2)
Our dishonest lawyer caused us weeks of stress and many hours of time as Ken organized our case. God observed similar scenes in Judah and Israel, and his rage boiled. Wicked Hebrews stole houses, lands and fortunes from their own people, apparently with forethought and glee.
Just as in ancient Israel, fraudulent behavior is not limited to the world but sometimes crops up amongst believers also. Churches and relationships are fractured as a result. This type of behavior is contemptible to God. He expects better of his children. To the evildoers of Judah and Israel he said,
“I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves” (Micah 2:3).
God’s nature and character are unchanging. What angered him three thousand years ago still lights him up today. Delayed judgement sometimes leads people to think it will never come. God’s laws of sowing and reaping will always apply however, and as Hosea said, “They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7).
If you are a victim of fraud, cheating, being lied to, etc., God sees it all. He’s recorded every penny, relationship, possession and job taken from you. You may be living in reduced circumstances due to the sin of others. Although our case with the disorganized lawyer ended well, at another time, a large corporation our business affiliated with, cheated us and other agents, out of significant sums of money through illegal business practices. The loss of revenue forced us to reduce our staff and move to smaller offices. Years later, when a case came before a judge, on behalf of agents, he ruled for the corporation, unjustly.
Remember, your heavenly Father, who sees the fall of every sparrow, cares deeply. Confronted with the choice between forgiveness and bitterness, with God’s grace, Ken and I chose the process of forgiveness. Please note I said process. As a result, we maintained our peace and intimacy with God and made room for him to work restoration in our lives. You can choose the same. Pray for those who wronged you. They are walking in unawareness of impending judgement, which never turns out well. Read any of the minor prophets for confirmation of that.
When my heart is right and clean before God, it’s easy to hear his voice. He shares wisdom and insight with me concerning instances where I’ve been wronged. Sometimes he tells me to let it go and assures me that he will deal with those individuals. The other agents, in the situation above, paid big dollars to take their case to court. God did not give Ken and I a green light on that because he knew the outcome and didn’t want us to waste our money. Bitterness might have led us into a case God didn’t want us involved in.
Other times, God directs me to confront people and hold them accountable for wrongdoing, like the unscrupulous lawyer. We could have paid his dishonest fee, and he would have dropped the court case. In that instance God told us to stand and fight.
I’ve discovered there are no simple formulas for responding to those who sin against me. Only intimacy with God empowers me to forgive and go forward in knowledge and discernment concerning those who wrong me. I encourage you to start every day with God speaking to you through His word and prayer. I trust my Righteous Judge to empower me to deal with every complex, unfair circumstance that intersects with my life, and you can too.
Lamp and Sword
****Further resources for study and reflection****
“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword.” Hebrew 4:12
If you are currently dealing with or trying to recover from circumstances in which you were wronged, I encourage you to read the following Bible accounts. Understanding how God directed these folks to behave towards their enemies helps me understand His ways and methods in these types of situations.
- David, God’s chosen king for Israel, runs from King Saul’s murderous rage for many years. Check out his attitude in these portions of his story found in I Samuel, chapters 24 and 26.
- Joseph’s journey to ruler of Egypt involved treachery and deceit from those closest around him. Read Genesis 37 and then 39-41 and observe Joseph’s demeanor and behavior.
- Caleb and Joshua were ready to take the promised land as soon as they spied on it. Instead they were defrauded of living there for forty long years because the other ten, cowardly spies spread evil reports amongst the Israelites. Read Joshua 14:6 to the end concerning Caleb’s reward. Joshua was not only given the honor of replacing Moses, read Joshua 19:49-50 to learn about his reward. Why did God bless them so generously?
What kind of attitude do you think they both maintained during those endless years in the desert?