April 7 – Today’s Readings – Deuteronomy 19-21 and Psalms 97
Chapter 19:16-19 reads, “If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime…, the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you.”
The gist of this passage teaches that the witness who dishonestly accuses another of committing a crime or of doing something immoral should suffer the same consequence as the accused would have if found guilty. This kind of thinking would be a refreshing addition to our justice system. Just imagine one politician falsely accusing another of impropriety – being found out – then having to resign or go to jail for his lying accusation. The media too would have to mind their words before defaming an innocent person. Think of all the “charges” that can completely ruin people because of the suggestion that they did such and such. I, for one, would be cheering loud and long if some of those false accusers would end up paying fines or serving time for trying to destroy a good person’s reputation. Better yet, they should be made to pay the person they were accusing directly! There are plenty of malicious people around who gladly accuse others because there is really no punishment or consequence for this crime.
I also enjoyed the section in Chapter 20 starting at verse 5 where the officers of the army were instructed to send anyone home who was not prepared to put aside distractions and to have faith in God for victory in battle. This attitude speaks to the heart of effective christian service and we too must embrace it if “the army of the Lord” is to fulfill it’s “commission”. Few things are harder to bear than negative attitudes and lack of confidence and unity when it comes to a community of people moving forward. We do indeed have a great task at hand and it will take members who are willing to put distractions aside and focus (with faith and trust) on the mission that is laid before us.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 sums up the general attitude Paul adopted in order to fulfill God’s calling on his life – “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” I personally am not big into “beating my body”, but we will never do all God has called us to if we do not let the Holy Spirit shape certain disciplines into our lives.
1. Think of an example from your life, where things would have felt different if a “malicious witness” had been made to pay for their lies.
2. How is the Holy Spirit trying to instill certain spiritual disciplines in your life so that you can be a better “spiritual soldier”?