We do not fear an arbitrary and punitive God. Rather, we fear losing God’s infinite love and companionship. That is what makes us wise.
Fear is a terrible thing. Indeed, it is the motivator behind most of our sins. Yet there is one fear that we ought to cultivate and pray for: “The fear of the Lord. [For it] is the beginning of wisdom.” This fear is the source of our righteousness. We do not fear an arbitrary and punitive God. Rather, we fear losing God’s infinite love and companionship. That is what makes us wise.
The line before today’s verse is informative here:
“Fear of man will prove a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” (verse 25)
Those “who seek an audience with a ruler” because they fear the arbitrary, autocratic, despotic, or even seemingly benign power that ruler holds over them, are seeking justice in the wrong place. They are putting their trust in the wrong person. Only a full trust in the Lord will keep us safe. For the reality is that, “it is from the Lord (alone) that one gets justice.” (verse 26)
The verse that follows today’s verse is also instructive of the truth of things in this world:
“The righteous detest the dishonest;
the wicked detest the upright.” (verse 27)
It is morally righteous to detest the dishonest. As Christians, though, we measure this detestation of dishonesty with the greater powers of charity and forgiveness. We are called to be like Jesus, to challenge those who are dishonest, not out of condemnation, but out of love for them and their eternal souls. We detest dishonesty because of how it destroys both the victim and the perpetrator. We know that honesty is of God and dishonesty is of the Evil One. We detest it with charity and forgiveness in the hope of inspiring a conversion in the heart and mind of those who are dishonest, to bring them back into harmony with the goodness that they were made in. This is why we cultivate honesty within ourselves. We desire only the goodness of God. But it is true also that those who refuse to turn away from their dishonesty will detest the upright with both viciousness and conscious intent. We see this in the life of Christ and we know that in choosing to live as he lived in our own lives, we may very well experience the hatred of those who defy God’s laws in their many dishonest ways.
Lord, help us to remain faithful to your truth and your justice. Strengthen us in our faith. Encourage our sincere efforts to remain honest in all that we say and do. Give us the courage to meet the hatred of those who defy your justice with the same charity and forgiveness you have given us. We pray these things in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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