Reading: Deuteronomy 16:18-20
Reflection: Before he died, Moses gathered the people of Israel on
the borders of the Promised Land and reminded them of God’s law.
This great prophet knew that God’s people could only fulfil their
calling to be a light to the nations if they stayed connected to God,
and if they followed God’s ways. Although reading the Old
Testament laws can be overwhelming because of what seems like
great complexity, all the laws boil down to a few simple principles. In
today’s short reading the importance of integrity is highlighted, not
just for leaders, but for all the people. Giving and receiving bribes
can never lead to justice and peace. Judging others with bias never
resolves issues of justice well, but fairness does. Notice how the
writer of Deuteronomy connects a life of justice with the ability of
God’s people to live in God’s land. Even if they inhabited the
geographical area that God had given them, the people would not
be living in God’s land if they failed to follow God’s ways of integrity
and fairness. And they certainly would not be able to reflect God’s
light to the world.
It is always tempting to favor those who are like us, or from whom
we can receive reciprocal benefits. It is always tempting to use
whatever means we can – including small acts of bribery, if
necessary – to make our lives easier and more streamlined. But,
when we do this, we participate in creating a world of imbalance and
injustice which brings suffering on everyone. It may seem to help us
in the short term, but in the end, it just creates more pain and
struggle. This is why integrity is such a fundamental part of all of
God’s law to the Israelites, and Jesus’ teaching to his followers.
Practice for Today: It can be tough to live with radical fairness,
even for those who have high standards of integrity. But, when we
practice praying for all people – both those we love and those with
whom we struggle – we learn to be fair to everyone regardless of our
relationship with them. Today, spend some time praying especially
for those with whom you disagree, and whom you struggle to love.
Prayer for Today: May your fairness and justice extend
through me to everyone I encounter, O God.