Psalm 101:1 I will sing of your love and justice; to you, Lord, I will sing praise.
Psalm 101 starts off so well. The writer declares his intent to sing of noble ideals like love and justice, as well as praising God. Sounds like a great idea and a wonderful way to express his faith; unfortunately, the rest of the psalm does not live up to the initial opening statement.
Very soon, the psalmist goes into a self-righteous mode and quickly begins to condemn those who do not follow God’s ways. At one point he further declares that:
v5 - Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.
We are all guilty of this and have experienced it on numerous occasions, from those with deeply entrenched views, as well from those who call themselves tolerant people. Sadly, we all currently see this all-too-human trait in the many forms of moral iconoclasm where opposing groups on abortion, sexuality, war, politics, or poverty tear down each other’s beliefs and standards, in the forlorn hope that the last person standing will win the day.
As I read the rest of Psalm 101, I wish that the writer had just written a spiritual haiku, for his first words speak so well of what faithful folks like us should aspire toward. The world is full of wounded people and in need of a merciful holy healing, but if faithful people are wounding one another, then how can God’s message be effectively witnessed to, in our communities? I honestly think that if we get rid of our agendas and instead subscribe to the love, mercy, and truth of Christ, then we will have a substantial message to proclaim; otherwise we will fall like the wounded around us, and be of no use to anyone.
Questions for personal reflection
How can I support God’s work of love and justice? Where is God working in my congregation and community today?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all have sinned and fall short of God’s standards and we know that we are unworthy of Your mercy. However, we do know that You love us and command us to love one another. Help us to see where You are working among us, in our congregation, our community, and our country. Enable us to become better servants of Your healing ministry. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is currently the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask questions about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s attached image is one of John’s latest bulletin covers for churches for last Sunday. If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Easter7B.