The Upper Room Devotion for Friday, July 7, 2023, was written by M. Ramki from Sri Lanka
1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. 6 Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. 8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you. 10 Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
Pslam 32:1-11 NRSV
JESUS SHOWS US THE WAY
I had returned to college in early September after a trip home, and I was walking toward the college hostel from the bust stop. Some contruction had begun while we were on vacation, and many holes had been dug on the side of the road. While I was walking, I spotted a boy talking on his mobile phone. He was absorbed in his conversation and seemed unconcerned about the danger on the road. I repremanded him in my heart and watched every step he took, expecting him to fall into a hole at any time. I kept my eyes fixed on the boy as I wondered, If he falls, should I pull him out of the hole and then scold him for his carelessness or should I scold him first and then pull him out?
As I was choosing my words and deciding how harsh I should be, I stopped paying attention to my path and fell into a hole. I realized then that looking at the faults of others can cause us to stumble. I prayed that day for Jesus to show me the right path in my life. The psalmist proclaims that God will protect and deliver us. We can always rely on God to show us the way.
42 How can you say to your brother and sister, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother and sister's eye. Luke 6:42 NRSV
M. Ramki's devotion underscores what can happen when we focus on judging others for their faults and flaws. M. Ramki was so focus on looking for the young man to fall and fail, that they forgot to pay attention to the holes along their own path. Jesus reminds us, in Luke 6:42, to keep our focus on addressing our own imperfections, growing edges, unhealthy behaviors, and divisive attitudes. Its easy to fall in to the hypocrisy of self-righteousness where we ignore and minimize our flaws, while simultaneously high-lighting the faults of others.
As people of faith, we are called to measure ourselves against the standard Jesus has set for us. Measuring ourselves against Jesus' standard reminds us we have more work to do to overcome our negative mindsets and behaviors. Comparing ourselves to someone else, especially someone we deem 'more sinful,' allows us to willfully ignore the internal work of transformation Jesus requires of us. I invite you to look in the mirror, to truly see the 'Plank(s)' Jesus is working to remove from your eye(s) that distort your view of the world.
Forgiving God, help us listen to you and to walk in the right path. Amen,
- M. Ramki