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Bible Study: Balancing grace with justice

NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Explore the Bible curriculum.

Bible Passages: Deuteronomy 5:17, 19:4-13

Discussion Questions:
— Where is the balance between grace and justice?
— How can believers demonstrate God’s character when dealing with situations where a human life is taken?

Food for thought:

At times, grace and justice seem to be in a tug-of-war. Grace and justice appear to be in opposition, not in sync. Grace sometimes gets positioned as the opposite of justice in that grace, working with mercy, offers second opportunities to seemingly undeserving people. Justice sometimes gets positioned in black and white terms without room for compassion (a cousin to grace). We may even begin to wonder if grace and justice can coexist and work as partners instead of antagonists. Moses gave us an example of these two crucial qualities working together.

In Deuteronomy 19, Moses gave guidelines for cities of refuge. These cities were established to serve as a safe haven for people who accidentally killed another person. The Old Testament law mandated that if a person was murdered, the next of kin was to avenge the death by executing the murderer.

However, cities of refuge were created so that a person who accidently killed another person could find protection until a fair hearing could be conducted. Moses also identified a system that called on cities of refuge to hand over anyone found to be a murderer (one who killed another person on purpose and with intent). Thus, in the establishment of cities of refuge, both grace and justice were demonstrated.

The cities of refuge point to God’s character and wisdom. We know God to be holy and righteous. As such, He serves as the righteous Judge over His creation. His righteousness calls for Him to judge unrighteousness. Because of the fall and our sin nature, all humans fit into this category. At the same time, God demonstrates His love by offering us grace and mercy through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

We cannot fully explain why He offers His undeserved grace and mercy to us, but we can (and should) be thankful that He does. He carries out justice and grace at the same time, and this is where we need His wisdom and His character in our lives. We must seek Him to understand how to act in His character in this world, showing grace and justice to all people, all of whom are created in His image.

Explore the Bible
Explore the Bible is an ongoing Bible study curriculum that helps groups dig into the key truths of each Bible book, while keeping the group on pace to study through the Bible books in a systematic way. More information can be found at LifeWay.com/ExploreTheBible.

Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool or ordered at LifeWay Christian Stores.

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  • Staff/Lifeway Christian Resources