July 08, 2019

Who's the Wrongdoer?

Judges 3:7-11; Luke 18:1-8

Grant me justice against my adversary.

—  Luke 18:3

Parents teach their children to be careful and not touch a flame or a hot stove, to look both ways when crossing the street, and so on. We want children to be safe and protected. But if a child disobeys and gets hurt, do we refuse to comfort them? Of course not.

Israel cried out to the Lord because they had failed to listen and were suffering again. God heard their cry and sent a Spirit-empowered savior to treat their distress. In truth, though, Israel didn’t need saving from the king who was oppressing them. They needed saving from their own wayward tendency to flirt with trouble.

It’s fair to ask God to be just with an unrighteous neighbor or someone who mocks your faith. But what if we ourselves are the instigator of our hurts? What if our own behavior lands us in terrible distress? Will we, with equal fervor, insist that God be as just with us as with that unrighteous neighbor?

When we ask God to rescue us from distress, it’s good to know who did us wrong—especially if we’re the cause of our own misery.

The good news is that God hears all the cries of his people. Jesus rescues from misery all who call on him, and we need to ask him to help us see when we are the cause of our own suffering—and confess it.

Father, by the power of your Son and Spirit, keep me from bringing trouble into my life. Help me to live faithfully for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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