On Being in Righteousness

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 4-6; Acts 17:16-34

Hear my words, Lord!
    Consider my groans!
    Pay attention to the sound of my cries, my king and my God,
        because I am praying to you!
Lord, in the morning you hear my voice.
    In the morning I lay it all out before you.
    Then I wait expectantly.
Because you aren’t a God
    who enjoys wickedness;
    evil doesn’t live with you.
Arrogant people won’t last long
in your sight;
    you hate all evildoers;
    you destroy liars.
    The Lord despises people who are violent and dishonest.

But me? I will enter your house
    because of your abundant, faithful love;
    I will bow down at your holy temple,
        honoring you.
Lord, because of many enemies,
    please lead me in your righteousness.
    Make your way clear,
        right in front of me.
Because there’s no truth in my enemies’ mouths,
    all they have inside them is destruction.
    Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues slick with talk.
10 Condemn them, God!
    Let them fail by their own plans.
Throw them out for their many sins
    because they’ve rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you celebrate.
    Let them sing out loud forever!
Protect them
    so that all who love your name
    can rejoice in you.
12 Because you, Lord, bless the righteous.
    You cover them with favor like a shield.

(Psalm 5:1-5, Common English Bible)

Jonah could have fit in really well with the psalmist. No, not the part of Jonah’s life where he runs from where God wants him to go. And no, not the part of Jonah’s life he spent in the belly of a giant fish. We aren’t even talking about Jonah when he went around Ninevah saying “Repent” to anyone who would listen. No, where I see Jonah in the Psalm is when Jonah is having a temper-tantrum or at the very least a pity-party. “I didn’t want to go to Ninevah because I know you and I knew you would cave as soon as they said, “Oh God, we messed up and we are soooo sorry.” And sure enough, that is just what God did. Jonah wanted God to go into Ninevah and go around town and put a good old-fashioned whipping on them.

Jonah’s story reminds me of the parable Jesus told about the man who hired workers all day long and then paid the people all the same, regardless of how long they worked. When those who had worked all day got paid the same as those who worked only an hour, the boss man said, can’t I do what I want with my money? I would tend to agree with him but it seems obvious to me that he never had to deal with the National Labor Relations Board.

The psalmist, Jonah and the workers who had been working all day are all suits cut from the same cloth. They wanted what was fair. They had no interest in grace. What many never stop to realize is, giving the people more than they had coming to them, not giving them what they deserve, regardless of the story, everyone is getting one thing, they don’t deserve it and they can’t go out and buy it. It is called grace. We can’t buy it or earn it. It only comes as a free gift from God.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, ALL Rights Reserved

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