Be Kind for Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle

Daily Office Meditations: 7th Week of Easter – Wednesday

(17) He sent a man before them — Joseph — who was sold as a slave. (18) They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons. (19) Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him. (20) The king sent and released him, The ruler of the people let him go free.

(21) He made him lord of his house, And ruler of all his possessions, (22) To bind his princes at his pleasure, And teach his elders wisdom.

Psalm 105:17-22

(20) “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

(23) “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

Ezekiel 18:20; 23

(27) So he answered and said, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (28) And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

(37) And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:27-28; 37

Joseph may be my favorite character in the Bible. In the Psalm we see a summary of the story arc in Joseph’s life. It is the ultimate archetypal story of death and resurrection (besides Jesus’ actual death and resurrection). Joseph is given a vision and a promise by God, it is given and confirmed in dreams. If you ever receive a big promise from God, duck! Immediately he is tested in the promise. The Psalmist writes that the promise, itself, tested him. He is promised that he shall rule over his family, but he is instead sold into slavery by his brothers. This is where any one of us would look to God and ask, “Why would you give me this grand promise only to allow my brothers to sell me into slavery? Was that promise even from the Lord?” Fair questions at this point.

The Psalmist tells us that Joseph was actually sent to Egypt by God to prepare the civilized world for a massive famine. First, Joseph must go through slavery and prison. This is such a parallel to our lives. How many of us are bemoaning our trials and circumstances when it may be that we have been sent there by God to bless and provide for many. God has the big picture, don’t get caught looking at your circumstances instead of God for your guidance on how your life is going.

In Ezekiel we see more of God’s heart. He would not be interested in visiting the sins of the father on the son. Although, of course, sons are adversely affected by sinful fathers. God takes no pleasure in the demise of the wicked. He desires that all would receive Jesus.

In Luke, we see God’s heart for us as created beings: “Love God, love your neighbor.” In order to do this, we must view all as our neighbor. A Jewish rabbi once said, “When can we know that the sun has risen? When we can look in the face of our foe and see our brother.” All in all, there is nothing simpler than “love God, love people.” The problem is that these concepts are difficult to practice.

In the end, it’s Joseph’s love for his family and the people that causes him to be such a good ruler. The Ezekiel passage allows us to rest in personal responsibility and an affirmation that God wishes even the wicked to turn to Him (we were once sinners when we were called). And the Gospel helps us to see that there is a focal point of the entire Christian life: Love vertical and horizontal.

Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. (maybe a quote by Ian Maclaren)

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