Day 174 – June 23

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 25-26
Acts 7:1-21
Job 18

“Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked,
And this is the place of him who does not know God.” – Job 18:21

These words from Job are an accusal that would apply to two innocent, both Job and Stephen (from the Acts 7). Both men seem to be on trial for their faith that is misunderstood by their fellow believers. We’ve looked at Job before at how we only see the surface of his situation, God has allowed this calamity to befall his favorite son among men, and how Job is judged a sinner because of the devestation in his personal life. Then we have Stephen, a follower of Jesus, one of the seven deacons chosen in the early organization of the Church. Stephen was brought up against charges of blasphemy, probably due to jealousy, and brought false witnesses against him.

Two men, both condemned by their own people. The first due to misreading of the mystery of suffering judge their friend a sinner; the second propped up for a fall because his righteousness made others look ridiculous in their religiosity. And how do these two men respond? They cling to God come what may.

Many times we see opportunities to defend faith, and shy away because we don’t want to get entangled or lose friendships over a discrepancy of faith. Let us learn to choose when it is necessary to speak, and when it is prudent to refrain, not for our own sake, but for the good of the soul before us. May our Lord help us to know the difference.

May God bless you.

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Day 143 – May 23

Today’s Readings:

1 Kings 9-10
John 8:1-27
Psalm 137

Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:6-7

What happened to the woman is each of our own worst nightmare, to be caught in our lowest moment and have it put on public display. There are stories of those who have died and come back to life who tell of their experience at being judged, how all of their sins committed are revealed while the hosts of heaven witness it against them. With the intense shame they experienced, they would be able to identify with what the woman was going through.

In Jesus we see the just judge, not even desiring to embarrass the woman further by looking at her in her lowest moment. He stoops down to the ground to write, hiding his face from her shame, as well as from the hatred and cruelty of her accusers. The Just Judge takes no delight in bringing sentence upon His creation; it is a burden that makes him stoop down to avert his eyes from bearing witness to it. It is a Merciful Judge.

With head bowed, stooped to the ground, Jesus writes. The greek word used here for write is katagraphein, which can be defined as ‘to write down a record against someone’. Was Jesus writing a record of the sins of the woman’s accusers? John doesn’t tell us. Perhaps the Just Judge wanted to give those accusing the woman a gentle reminder of their own sinfulness? To let them see their own guilt and choose willingly to walk away from condemning another?

Our Judge – Jesus Christ – is Just. Let us learn from the Just One how to be careful in our capacity to judge one another. Let us gaze upon Him and learn to be gentle with the state of others’ souls. We may be bringing condemnation on ourselves in that very moment. May we choose to walk gently like Jesus with others, knowing that all of us will one day stand before Jesus and give account for our sins and our capacity to be merciful.

May God bless you.

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