The Riotous on the move
Enough. My soul could handle no more. I turned my phone off.
Images of angry rioters chanting in streets, storming the Capitol, vowing for “justice” filled my news feed. This is nothing new to human history, but it does feel the last year has revealed the riotous heart of humans more than we’ve ever seen. I thanked the Lord He’d already led me to break from social media. I knew my soul would wilt under the weight of opinions and information overload.
God’s Heart for the Riotous
The Lord gave me two words: riotous and righteous, which I wrote in my journal. These are the whispers of God. He will give me words and phrases, but He will speak to me directly through His Word.
Following my Bible in a year reading guide, I opened to Matthew 9. My desire is to read familiar stories this year with fresh eyes.
God’s heart jumped off the page. “….For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13
What I heard was, “….For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but the riotous.”
When the Righteous Repent
How like the Pharisees my heart can lead. My righteous indignation flares at the violence and anger swirling our nation into turmoil. I can cry out to the Lord to end the anger, deal justice where justice is due. Seeing my goodness in the face of flagrant sin is easy. Oh how Pharisaical we become.
May we “righteous” repent.
May we thank God Jesus has imparted His righteousness to us, without which we remain riotous in heart if not externally.
One of my boys borrowed a bar of soap from my shower. I keep it in a plastic container so it maintains its hard shape. The borrower of my soap failed to put the soap in the protective case, exposing it to a steady stream of rinsing water. Later when I tried to take the soap from the case, it molded into my hands like soft putty ready to take new shape and form.
Repentance softens our heart. A repentant heart gives itself over to the loving, shaping hands of the Father, effectively saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t need to place myself in my own protective case. I trust You, Lord.”
Riotous vs Righteous
What I see in culture is the “righteous” taking a stand against the “riotous.” The stand needed today is from our knees. Jesus came for the sinner, the rioter, the idolator, the drunkard, the adulterer. His heart is for the ones who don’t know Him.
Yet, I forget this everyday my righteous anger breaks out in my heart. As I read in Matthew 9 when Jesus called Matthew to be His disciple, my heart began to soften. The heart of Jesus breaks me.
“When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:11-13
Go and learn
Jesus gives us an instruction for today as much as He did to the Pharisees. Go and learn.
Am I willing to learn what His heart desires over what my human heart decides is right?
He desires mercy.
The definition of mercy is this:
- the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty
- compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence
- something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing:
This is what He desires for us over our sacrifice. That our hearts be merciful, full of compassion toward the one who doesn’t yet know the heart of the Father.
What is Right? Where do we go from here?
Justice is vital in a safe society. I’m not saying rioters must be excused from their behaviors. But these are the ones Jesus came and died for. He came that all would know Him.
So what if the righteous effectively prayed for the riotous? Would this not form a more powerful weapon in our hands than the anger and judgement desiring to control our hearts?
What if we assumed a new position? On our knees.
We’ve lived many years in America where hearts lived under the cover of being fine. Circumstances are pressing on us revealing the truth of what hides in the heart, exposing the ones who thought they knew God but don’t yet, exposing the depth of our fears.
Does God love the righteous or the riotous? Both. May we remember.
Is God Who He Says He is?
He is good, King, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere always. He is still on His throne.
Join me in thanking Him for His merciful heart, without which we’d all live hopeless. That merciful heart given to us is given for all, the righteous and riotous alike. May we repent of our arrogance and pride and humbly plead on behalf of those resisting the loving hands of the Father. There is not a hard heart, He can’t soften with His rinsing love.
Thank you, Jesus.