For years Paul thought the word shyster was a swear word. It was certainly always used in a negative way with lots of emotion attached to it. In fact, about the only sentences it occurred in was the recurring lines, “Those shyster lawyers nearly cost us everything.” Or, “Those shysters got what they had coming to them.”
After Paul graduated from college he moved his family to Colorado to start working in a construction company. Not too long after he moved, his parents decided it was time to sell their little soda shop. It was a quaint, vintage fountain. The counter was marble with many antique fixtures. It was a classic, old time, small town, memorable location. But, they really needed to sell. Age and finances were such that they were going to need the money from the sale to be able to survive.
Because Paul grew up in a small town, selling a business was not an easy proposition. His parents finally sold on a risky contract for deed arrangement. The paperwork was set up in such a way that none of the vintage equipment, the marble bar, nor the antique advertising pieces that decorated the walls could be sold until the business was completely paid for.
After a few months the buyers stopped making payments. Paul’s parents wrote letters appealing to them to stay current. They made phone calls to try to encourage them to make their payments. Finally, after a while, they decided to go into the shop and confront the buyers personally. What they found was shocking. The marble counter with its vintage stools was gone. The antique equipment was gone. The vintage posters were gone. Everything of value had been stripped from the shop and sold.
In what the family thought would be an open and shut case, turned into a long and drawn out judicial event. The lawyers that were hired never seemed prepared. They certainly did not appear to do their job in or out of the courtroom. Finally, a judge issued the ruling. Paul’s parents would have to resume ownership of the fountain. The loss of equipment was unfortunate, but the buyers were not liable. The lost payments would not be repaid and Paul’s parents would be responsible for all the court costs.
Thus, those “shyster lawyers.” Even though they looked into it, they realized that going after the lawyers legally would cost the family so much that even if they won, they’d lose. So, they took the shop back, sought to rebuild the business and started over. It was taxing and hard on the family. A few years later, they sold to some honest buyers and were able to move into retirement.
It was later discovered that those “shyster lawyers” had been paid off by the unscrupulous buyers. They were heavily fined, disbarred from ever practicing law again, and barely escaped going to jail. There was no monetary recovery for Paul’s family, but there was a deeply satisfying sense of justice.
Text: Micah 6:9-15
Listening to the Text
These questions are specifically designed to help you look at the text more carefully.
- What does the first question asked (v10) tell you about God’s grace?
- What actions does God condemn among His people?
- What do the images in verses 14-15 tell you will happen to God’s rebellious people?
Applying What We’ve Heard
These questions are to help you see how the text applies to you and others.
- Why are issues of justness and fairness so important for God’s people?
- How do you feel when you read of God withholding from us those results/rewards we might naturally expect to experience?
God of patience, you bear with us so long and so patiently. It’s honestly surprising that you don’t reach a point of action much sooner. We are often unfair and unethical in how we do business, treat others and live in our community. Forgive us when we overlook the matters that matter to you. We seek your forgiveness that we need not experience your discipline. Jesus, you have made us new—help us to act new. Holy Spirit, move us to live by new standards: standards of right, of justice, and of compassion. Amen.
Listening to Jesus
Read: Luke 11:37-44
For Jesus, the outside of the cup wasn’t what was important. He wanted the inner motivations and values to be those that God approved. Humans tend to look too much at outward behavior and appearance and forget that what really matters is inner character. Our concern for others, especially the disenfranchised and outsiders, should be far more important than what we portray outwardly.
Responding in Life
- Take some time to reflect on God’s heart for justice.
- Ask Him to help you heal from any injustices you’ve suffered.
- Ask Him to search your heart and show you if there is anything unjust or unethical about the way you are relating to others.