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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, June 2, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 82

God has taken his place in the divine council;
   in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
   and show partiality to the wicked?
Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
   maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
   deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
   they walk around in darkness;
   all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you;
   nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.”
Rise up, O God, judge the earth;
   for all the nations belong to you! (NRSV)

When the subject of judgment surfaces, many of us grimace with discomfort. All we have to do is consider briefly the traits of mean-spiritedness or pettiness that too often accompany judgment in our society, and we loathe to discuss it. We bristle at easy condemnations. We fear being unfairly judged or misjudging others. It can be a paralyzing burden. Yet, in fact, we are making judgments every day. We might more charitably call them decisions—brief discernments about what is or is not best for us and for others—and in so doing, we make judgments about matters such as where and what to eat or whom to help and whom to avoid.

Scripture, through the words of the psalmist, reminds us that those judgments have life-and-death consequences for others. We might not realize it, but decisions we make with regard to where we spend our dollars and how we share our resources of time and attention can all have adverse impact on the lives of others. Sure, we have good intentions, but we also carry biases (often implicit), a limited frame of reference, and a lack of curiosity. All of these hinder our ability to deal justly with those the psalmist names: the widows, orphans, weak, and needy—those who too often have their back against the wall of history and everyday life.

We, perhaps the little gods of this psalm, often make poor judges, not because judging is wrong, but because we do it without justice, equity, and the well-being of others in mind. But the psalmist reminds us there is another judge in our midst. The God of heaven and earth, our creator, redeemer, and sustainer, shows us what righteous judgement. It is this God who reminds us that our choices and decisions matter and we should make them with care, humility, and grace.

Holy God, you hold the world in the palm of your hand, and you judge it with equity. Help us as your people to discern as you do. Lead us to judge justly and love generously. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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