Justice. Mercy. Grace.
The Ugly Path.
God don’t like ugly, and often a reckoning is required to turn us around when we are resolutely traveling down the ugly path. Given a choice, I would rather have a reckoning with God than man, but how much better to humble myself prior to a reckoning with anybody. The route and the end of the ugly path are …..ugly..… and God don’t like ugly. Period.
A reckoning with God is a phrase most folks understand, particularly among blacks and whites in the Deep South, profoundly steeped in an understanding of God’s goodness, His justice, and the fact He sho don’t like ugly. We recognize this God we serve does not condone unseemly behavior and we are acutely aware that He is gonna deal with ugly; it just might not be in this life, or in our timing!
Psalm 113 affirms the often-quoted phrase, “My God sits high and looks low,” meaning He is existentially and in every way “above” us, yet He looks down with a proffered hand of goodness to those willing to grab it. He sees all our actions, even being aware of our motives.
Many with a singular, Old Testament mindset—the only canon for Jewish brethren—can tend to see God as a severe and harsh Being. It is easy for people to sway that way; I did and still struggle with that leaning. Or we tend to go to the opposite polar, seeing Him as all “loving,” almost a sweet Grandfatherly image, not as the biblical Lion of Judah, not as a consuming fire, not including many of His self-described, eternal attributes, which challenge many presuppositions about Him and His “interference” in the affairs of mankind.
Most people understand that a reckoning is not a good thing. We all know we are guilty of something, falling short of even our own low-bar standards, and all of us act ugly at times. The “fallers short” understand instinctively and experientially that all dishonorable actions have consequences, and a reckoning with God or man often involves pain and suffering.
God don’t like ugly is a fine thought barometer reminding us to let things go, place them in God’s hands, and to not act in the ugly manner in which we might have been treated. For many Christians it is a biblical response rooted in our collective understanding that “Vengeance belongs unto the Lord!”
The meaning incorporates encouragement to let God deal with things the way He sees fit. This releases the releaser from the burden of payback. True forgiveness frees the offended, even if it means there is no temporal punishment for the offender. It is now God’s to deal with…
However, forgiveness is hard to appropriate because of our pride and a honed sense of justice—something most of us want to avoid in our own lives. Grace and Mercy are preferable! Justice has been defined as God giving us what we do deserve; Mercy is not getting what we do deserve; and, Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.
Extending the very same grace and mercy that has been extended by God and others to us is how we are supposed to treat people. We are not supposed to act ugly, and I can act uglier than most, but I can never ever never justify ugly. Ugly cannot be justified. Period.
All God and others want from us is to say we are sorry when we are, to then think correctly, followed by the will to do right, and then to do the right things with His help and the help of others.
God Don’t Like Ugly, and I will say along with King David, who had aggrieved the Lord and was offered a choice of three dire consequences for his actions, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”
A reckoning with a good-though-just God is preferable to a reckoning left up to the actions of fallen man, but Lord may I grow in some “act right,” so as to be a better human and to avoid a reckoning at all.
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