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Matter of Conscience and Good Judgment (Matthew 12:9–13)

Let us see how Jesus Christ made his decisions in ambiguous or complex situations. While Jesus Christ, is in the presence of a man who has a withered hand, he asks the following questions about the Sabbath: “After departing from that place, he went into their synagogue, and look! there was a man with a withered hand! So they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. He said to them: “If you have one sheep and that sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath, is there a man among you who will not grab hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do a fine thing on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man: “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored sound like the other hand” (Matthew 12:9–13). The Sabbath was the day when all work was absolutely forbidden. However, if an animal and a human were in distress, it made sense to rescue them, even on the Sabbath. In this case, it was the timeless principle of mercy that prevailed over this Sabbath commandment, as Jesus Christ reminded us in Matthew 23:23. Common sense helps to understand where the priorities are in the decisions to be made (2 Timothy 1:7).
Another biblical example where a law and a principle can exceptionally collide. In Joshua chapter 2 we can read that Joshua sent two spies to the city of Jericho. They hid in the house of Rahab. The soldiers knocked on her door to ask her if the spies were at her house: “The king of Jerʹi·cho was told: “Look! Israelite men have come in here tonight to spy out the land.” At that the king of Jerʹi·cho sent word to Raʹhab: “Bring out the men who came and are staying in your house, for they have come to spy out the entire land.” But the woman took the two men and hid them. Then she said: “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And at dark when the city gate was about to be closed, the men went out. I do not know where the men went, but if you quickly chase after them, you will catch up with them.” (However, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them among stalks of flax laid in rows on the roof.)” (Joshua 2:2–6). Rahab was faced with a dilemma, either to tell the truth and the two men would have perished, or not to report their presence and save their lives.
Going back to the three eternal principles of Matthew 23:23, mercy, justice and faithfulness, Rahab prioritized the eternal principle of the justice of God, to make this right decision: “In the same manner, was not Rahab the prostitute also declared righteous by works after she received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way?” (James 2:25).

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