July 14, 2017

A Certain Toughness

Jeremiah 5:1-5

Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.

—  Jeremiah 5:1

Love calls for a certain toughness of mind—not looking down on others or hating them, even if we know their sins and flaws. Jesus is the perfect example of this combination of toughness and gentleness.

Jeremiah 6:14 says, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” Of all people, Christians should not be gullible. We should know how deeply sin has corrupted the world and how hard it is to restore relationships. The apostle Paul, echoing our verse for today and other passages, says, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). That includes us—unless we turn to Jesus. Thankfully, God’s grace is greater than all our sin.

It is said that the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes went around Athens, holding up a lantern, peering into people’s faces, looking for an honest man. Their consciences, it seems, couldn’t meet his gaze, and they looked away.

People from every economic and social level cover up dishonesty. No one wants God’s searchlight to uncover their sin. It takes a tough attitude to achieve justice, to sift through lies to find the truth. Getting to know people takes time.

Do we even know ourselves? 

O God, you see into our hearts. Give us eyes to see what is really there. May we turn from our sin and honor you. Teach us from Jesus’ example. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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