Truth and Reconciliation
“Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Rom. 11:33). Praise God for his rich wisdom!
Read PROVERBS 24:23-34
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13).
In a memorable documentary, screened in 2006, the widow and brother of a man shot as he delivered bread came face to face with his murderer. He was a member of one of Northern Ireland’s paramilitary groups, released from prison under a peace agreement. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, accompanied by fellow conciliators, brought about the meeting. They were seeking to apply lessons learned in South Africa to another place where ancient hatreds have destroyed communities. In a wholly unscripted and moving moment in the documentary, the widow stands up and holds out her hand to her husband’s killer. She does what the words of this text call us to do, though it is probably in more everyday circumstances that we need to learn to practice forgiveness. This woman rejected retribution and would not do to another what he deserved (29).
Facing the Truth might be an appropriate subtitle for this short section of Proverbs. It acts as a kind of appendix to the previous section. Prejudiced judgments, knowingly skewed verdicts and perjury (23b,24,28): what misery and desperation they cause! Verdicts and testimony delivered with courage and integrityﾗwhat freedom and joy they can bring (25,26)! One of the difficulties of engaging with texts like these is that the instructions or propositions can seem to be platitudes (23b). But we need to meditate on what such integrity looks like in real life, on our loyalties that will be tested, on friendships we may lose. Similarly, we may need to look beyond that vineyard (30) to relationships and resolutions that may have broken down because we have carelessly neglected them. There is a poverty that has little to do with money (34).
Reflect on these high standards in the empowering presence of Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Let Hebrews 12:1-6 become your prayer about the struggle for integrity.
Lord, I need daily help to show grace to those who have hurt me. Empower me to replace vengeance with love. Thank You.
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