“And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.” (Luke 18:3 KJV)
Some pastors claim that it is the parable of the shrewd manager (Luke 16:1-14) that is the difficult lesson to teach. Personally, I think this is the most telling. There is a whole mountain of thought revealed in this short parable that can move our prayer life a few degrees over. The first obvious question is why is someone, least of all a widow, asking for justice? Justice, like we have a right to something? Justice, like someone is infringing upon what is ours? As Christians we are pelted with the concepts of mercy and grace. If anything, we want to keep out of court; not go to court! Is that not the point told earlier in Matthew? “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” (Matthew 5:25 KJV) We constantly have the mind set that we are guilty of something. It is we who have been shown mercy therefore we need to also show mercy (see also Matthew 18 – the servant who was forgiven but could not forgive). Some even (superficial as it may seem) go so far as to simply not offend anyone just to be sure. To top it off, it is a widow who is going to court. Of all the people who should be benefiting from generous sacrifice under specific allocation of the law… Wow. This story requires some serious thought.
Now, do not get me wrong. I am not saying that the widow did not have a water tight case. At least she seemed to think so. There is certainly a place for making right what is wrong. I do not even second guess the fact that court battles are often very lengthy and may require several overturned judgments to get it right. The very telling piece of this is that it takes a very secure person to be able to come before God in his prayer closet to repeatedly ask for justice. There is a certain maturity to both trust in the fact that God forgives and delivers judgment. Even more that we should ask for both forgiveness and justice. Paul’s words to the Philippians seems a good deal closer to home here. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13 KJV) It is amazing to see the results of what God’s hand works out for those who seek Him day and night. It is humbling and requires a watchful eye on our part to see it. This requires an enormous faith in what is yet unseen before God that he will make it known in due course. Notice that this is not a passive faith, but a very active one. Sometimes in the persistent pursuit of justice we come to better understand mercy and grace. Yet in others when we are seeking mercy and grace we come to better understand justice.
“Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” (Psalms 89:14 KJV)