The world seems more divided than ever. Pundits argue on news networks, politicians pit themselves against one another, people attack one another on social media. Even families find themselves at odds. When division is so present, it is easy to see people we disagree with as our enemies. And it is easy, once we have designated them as enemies, to reject their humanity and wish them ill.
There’s a striking juxtaposition in Psalm 79 that touches on this impulse. The psalmist writes about the devastating destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the hateful violence of the Israelites’ enemies. The psalmist begs God to unleash vengeance on them and pour out anger on the nations who do not know or worship God. Then, in the next breath, the psalmist acknowledges the failures and inequities of Israel’s own ancestors and asks God to ignore those and have compassion for the Israelites.
It’s interesting how easy it can be to expect compassion for ourselves and those we love without extending it or wanting God to extend it to others. We want to believe that God shares our ire, our hatred, our rejection. Too often we confuse retribution with justice. We’re happy to have a God of grace to forgive us, but we want a God of vengeance to punish those who harm us. The truth, though, is that God loves and offers compassion and mercy and grace to all people. As recipients of that grace and mercy, we are called to offer them in turn to others, even to those we deem our enemies.
God, thank you for the love and compassion and mercy you show me. Help me to remember that you love all people and that I am called to do the same. Amen.
Jeremiah, “the weeping prophet,” grieves for the plight of his people. They have provoked God’s judgment by following foreign gods, and now there is no comfort to be found. The psalmist cries out to God from a similar situation of despair. Foreign nations have overrun the land, destroyed Jerusalem, and killed many of its people. The psalmist cries out to God for compassion and restoration. The author of First Timothy gives his readers two commands. They should pray for and honor their leaders, and they should be faithful to the one true God, with whom they have a relationship through Christ Jesus. Jesus in Luke tells a strange parable about a dishonest manager who is commended for his shrewd business sense, but Jesus turns his story into a teaching about good stewardship.
Read Jeremiah 8:18–9:1. When have you called out to God in distress?
Read Psalm 79:1-9. As you search for solutions to life’s problems, how do you demonstrate God’s call to love and to justice?
Read 1 Timothy 2:1-7. How do you pray for your local, state or province, and national leaders with whom you agree? with whom you disagree?
Read Luke 16:1-13. How do you negotiate the complexities of Jesus’ call to be a good steward of your resources as you work to serve God rather than money?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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