Scripture: from verse 15
…he who leaves evil becomes a target.
Observation: The first part of this passage is a depressing-but-accurate description of the world as it tends to be: everyone sins, most people delight in sin, and the people who aren’t as ruthless as possible become targets. We see it in the schoolyard, we see it in the corporate world, it’s everywhere.
The passage goes on to say that this angers God and He arms Himself and wreaks vengeance on those who delighted in doing wrong. Which is all well and good, but not always comforting for people who are trying to find ways of doing what is right without being victims. Despite the promises of eventual reward, I can’t say I’m finding this passage all that comforting.
Which probably means that I’m not seeing right. God sees things differently, somehow. His perspectives on time and suffering are different, and not in a large-scale, it’s-not-that-bad, He-doesn’t-care way. He’s aware of a larger truth that somehow makes it all fit together. He knows that someday, we’ll be laughing too.
Application: Hold on to hope. He’s on His way.
Prayer: Lord, I praise you because you can see the purpose and the intricate integrity of everything that happens to me,even when I can’t. I praise you because you can help me laugh at trouble. Help me to trust you. Amen.
Scripture: verse 29
Let no harmful language come from your mouth, only good words that are helpful in meeting the need, words that will benefit those who hear them.
Observation: I’ve mentioned before that one of my common failings is cynicism and speaking harshly of ideas (and people) I disagree with. (Part of the problem, of course, is that I tend to speak of the idea in the abstract, forgetting that people are involved and might be hurt or offended or feel excluded by my words.) Here we have the criterion I should be using: that which blesses others.
Which helps me reconcile the tension I feel in many cases, actually. I have strong opinions because I think about things and am fairly intelligent, and that’s not actually a bad thing. My cynicism has even been known to help certain people (usually Hero or my sister), in certain situations. But I’m just as likely to spout off to someone who isn’t interested or doesn’t need to know, because I’m more focused on the idea than on the person.
Application: My goal needs to be to bless the person I am speaking with. I’m not always very good at figuring out how to do that, but I expect that as I bring my heart into line with God’s heart, He’ll take care of the rest.
Prayer: Yeshua, help me see the people around me as you see them. Help me to bless them. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 10:
We are of God’s making, created…for a life of good actions already prepared by God for us to do.
Observation: I like the idea that God has picked out and planned good deeds for me to do. I was thinking earlier today about street evangelism, which I am terrible at. At least, I’m reasonably certain I would be, if I ever tried. It’s all well and good to say it’s just a matter of striking up a friendly conversation and bringing up God when it seems appropriate, but that’s because you’ve never seen me try to strike up a friendly conversation. I manage it occasionally, but usually by accident.
Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that I don’t have to spend a great deal of time and energy worrying about it. God has prepared things for me to do. I do my best to make myself open and available, and to act on opportunities as they come. I’m not required to do anything else.
Application: Relax. If I’m supposed to do X, God will prepare me and create the opportunity. If I’m not supposed to do X, God probably has someone else in mind for the role. Rushing around trying to force the issue just wastes energy that could be spent doing something more productive.
Prayer: Father, thank you for planning good deeds for me to do. Thank you for preparing me for them, for creating opportunities for me to learn and work and speak, for using me as I am and not as I think you wish I were. Help me to listen when you tell me what my next step is. Amen.