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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, October 21, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Leviticus 19:1–2, 15–18

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord. You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (NRSV)

Reflection
This passage instructs us that preferring one person or group over another is a distortion of justice. Personally I am challenged by the thought that I am not above the inclination to judge others. Somehow it seems natural to have bias, but God commands us to rise above our innate preferences. Instead we are to treat others equitably based on the principles of a loving God.

All through scripture the people of God are called to act justly. We are called to end oppression, to dismantle racism, to love one another unconditionally, to treat strangers as we would care for the closest of kin. The Word of God tells us to take care of widows and orphans who lack the ability to provide for themselves, because they require our help. God treats each of us fairly and expects us as recipients of blessings to pay grace forward.

But justice is not only about correcting transgressions. It also is about treating everyone with fairness, protection, and care. God invites us to be instruments of justice on behalf of the most at-risk among us—the oppressed, marginalized, disenfranchised, defenseless, and the powerless.

I admit that to act justly is not easy. It’s a high calling. As Leviticus 19:15 says, “You shall not render an unjust judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor.” What a difficult lesson to be reminded that we are not above the natural inclination to judge others based on prejudice.

Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When we appropriate God’s heart of justice, we usher in the heavenly kingdom here on earth.

Prayer
Creator God, please remove the bias within us so we can clearly see your Holy Face in each other, allowing us to love unconditionally. You have given us the responsibility to live in fairness, mercy, and love. Empower us individually and collectively to humbly reflect your grace so we might unleash your love, righteousness, and justice in all that we do. For your sake. Amen.

Written by Robert Crouch, Director of Volunteer Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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