September 23, 2021

Who's Who


You shall see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

Malachi 3:18
I watched a video clip recently of a televangelist promising to send viewers a tacky-looking bright blue blanket with the words Miracles Happen! emblazoned on it. The catch? They'd need to donate $1000 first. But, of course, it was a miracle blanket. Though recipients were free to do with the blanket as they wished (e.g. "sleep under it," or "hang it on the wall"), a co-host suggested putting it to better use: Lay it over your bills [for] healing of your finances. Put your wallet in there, your credit cards, all the bills, you know, the mortgage, put it on there. We're having houses paid off! Though this clip was from 2021, it should be noted that in 1989 this same televangelist was convicted of fraud for his fundraising activities on a different television show and spent several years in a federal penitentiary.

I also know of an elected official who always wrote Bible verses on the memo line of his checks. He was later convicted of child pornography.

The point is that, though the words righteous and wicked seem to be opposites, it's not always easy to tell who's who. By the same token, the path to righteousness is not always clear in front of us. What if I help someone, only to find out they're using my resources to buy drugs? What if I support a cause, but discover my money was used to line the pockets of its directors? What if I support a politician who turns out to be a charlatan? 

The fact of the matter is, our knowledge is imperfect. The Bible encourages us to pray for discernment, and our ignorance isn't necessarily blameworthy (though I do believe that willful ignorance is sinful—that is, it's wrong and hurtful to ignore facts, attack science, or spread information that I have not tested on my own). But even in these confusing times, there are always choices in front of us that we know to be true or righteous or good. As Martin Luther King said way back in 1964: The time is always right to do right

Even as I pray for the discernment to know truth from falsehood, may I give of my resources, share the love of God, and do what I can to bring neighbors together.

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up.
 Galatians 6:9
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it,
trusting that you will make all things right,
if I surrender to your will,
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
and supremely happy with you forever in the next.
 Reinhold Niebuhr (UCC Pastor)
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After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
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