Deal fairly, do not oppress
Jeremiah 7: 1-7
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the Lord. 3 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place. 4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’
5 For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, 6 if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, 7 then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors for ever and ever.
As Winter transitions into Spring, we look forward to the sight of a Bluebell Wood. Because the leaves are just starting to open on the trees, it’s possible for the sunlight to transform the spiky dark foliage on the ground; stems rise, and suddenly there are drifts of mauve and blue flowing around the trunks of the trees as far as the eye can see. The wood demonstrates the mutuality of nature – leafless trees allow other plants to flourish; once in leaf, they protect tender plants so that all have a chance to shine.
I’m sure none of us thinks that we ‘oppress’ someone else. Yet in every walk of life some of us have authority over others – parents, siblings, work colleagues, the list goes on.
“Mend your ways and your doings” says Jeremiah, ‘deal fairly with one another’
So, when someone else is having a difficult day, and yours is going really well, you have a choice. Will you think, ‘Whew, thank goodness that didn’t happen to me!’ Or will you go and offer to help make things better?
We are called to live among people in a spirit of loving kindness and mutuality. If something will fix a situation – do it! If something you do will disadvantage someone else – don’t do it! Build up your community with radical love.
Lord, in the wild wood of life,
I’m so busy trying to grow myself, I don’t always notice those around me, or even think how they may be feeling.
As I find my own sense of belonging in you, help me to reflect on how others may experience life in my community, at my work, or in my university/school. Although I need to think about my needs, the needs of others are just as important to you, and to me, so help me not to be self-centred.
As you value me, I value others, and can show them your love in action.
Show me how to be fair-minded, listening to the quiet voices and calming the strident ones