When a Ferguson, Missouri policeman recently shot a man who reportedly had assaulted him but was unarmed, the incident grabbed widespread attention. The national press made it the lead story for several days. Citizens rioted. Social activists came and made bold speeches. President Obama made a public statement about it. Attorney General Holder sent a team of investigators and promised the full resources of the federal government, then made a personal visit.
Meanwhile, just 300 miles to the north, the city of Chicago has averaged more than a murder a day this year, including one on August 20 when a nine-year-old boy was shot while playing in his yard. His story was barely a blip on the national radar.
Why is there so much more interest in and concern about one killing than another? Reasons vary. You decide in this case. What I would like us to think about is the concept of selective concern as it relates to our own lives. Are we more concerned about some applications or violations of God’s law than others?
Take honesty, for example. I have known a few brethren who from all appearances were quite honest when it came to financial matters, yet they seemingly thought little of misrepresenting others’ statements or positions. Is that any less dishonest?
Israel’s wilderness experiences taught them that God was outraged at their idolatry, fornication, and open rebellion, but no more so than He was at their frequent complaining. How many of us would put complaining and idolatry on equal footing?
In the church, some would be appalled at the suggestion to bring in instrumental music, yet they seldom sing. When it comes time to appoint elders, some meticulously examine a potential appointee in regard to the family qualifications, then turn around and minimize a character or ability requirement.
Are we as concerned about positively doing right as leaving off wrong? Or vice versa?
Jesus’ story of the lost brothers in Luke 15 illustrates the problem. The younger son was lost through bad conduct. His older brother wouldn’t have dreamed of engaging in such immorality, yet he was eaten up with self-righteousness and bitterness. Although he did not see it, his bad attitude made him just as lost.
Consistency is always a challenge. So is honest self-evaluation. Nevertheless, we must do our best. Remember God’s charge: “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you” (Jeremiah 7:23).
- by Frank Himmel