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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, August 4, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 17:1–7, 15

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right.
If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me,
you will find no wickedness in me;
my mouth does not transgress.
As for what others do, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness. (NRSV)

Psychologist Ken Benau states there is too much shame and not enough healthy pride in our culture. He defined healthy pride as taking delight in one’s sufficiency to achieve or accomplish something. His statement resonates with me. What I most associate with pride is the statement “Pride cometh before the fall.” Shame, which is an experience of one’s brokenness, is more familiar than I care to admit. When I think of my relationship to the Divine, I see parallels. I have spent much more time in my relationship to the Divine struggling to measure up and feeling inadequate, unworthy, and broken. Fortunately this does not deny me God’s grace, unconditional love, and forgiveness. This psalm opens up an expanded way of being in holy relationship that I would like to cultivate.

In this psalm the writer exhibits healthy pride about his relationship to God. Listen to his declarations: “hear my just plea”; “I have determined I will not transgress with my mouth”; “I have avoided the ways of the violent”; “my steps have held fast to your paths.” This psalmist is self-assured and certain he is living in right relationship with God. Then with confidence he invokes God’s protection, presence, and responsiveness: “I will behold thy face”; “you will answer me”; “hear my prayers”; “show forth thy gracious love.”

I would like to bring more of my goodness and strengths into my relationship with God. I think it would make for a healthier relationship between us.

Loving God, help me live in right relationship with you. Give me the wisdom, insight, and strength to avoid violence, speak truth with love and kindness, and follow your ways without faltering. When I succeed at this, help me take delight in the relationship we together have created. When I falter, I thank you that your love is unconditional, your presence is guaranteed, and your forgiveness is assured. Amen.

Written by Thomas Schemper, Director, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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