August 14, 2018
"This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.'" Zechariah 7:9-10 (NIV)
Our team worked side by side for days, working long hours to repaint the missions base we were visiting in Scotland. Finally, it was time for a break and some fun!
The whole team, Scots and Americans alike, celebrated as we swarmed out of our vehicle into Edinburgh for a day of shopping and sightseeing. After hanging out for a bit as a crowd, the group decided to split up to pursue different interests.
I asked my young friend Parveen to come with me in my group, so her missionary single mom could go her own way for a rare break. With a sparkle in her eyes, Parveen nodded, and her mother cheerfully headed in the opposite direction. I swung the tiny girl up onto my shoulders for a ride.
As Parveen and I moved along together down the street, I began to feel uncomfortable. I couldn't put my finger on it at first. What was it that made me so nervous? Suddenly, I realized what it was: People were staring at me. Some were even glaring. I was puzzled about the cause for a few minutes until a sudden realization hit me. They think Parveen is my daughter.
Parveen's parents were of Indian heritage, so my spritely rider's dark skin glistened against my pale hands as I held her securely on her perch. In a flash of shocking insight, I realized I was experiencing a small glimpse of the pain of prejudice for the first time in my life.
Years later, I would sit in a classroom of adults and listen brokenhearted as my friend Shirley described being a child required to pass a sign saying "Colored Served in Rear" before entering a restaurant through the back door.
But the prejudice she experienced as a child wasn't only in the past. "Every time I enter a store even now," she explained, "I feel eyes on me, watching to make sure I don't do anything wrong." What I experienced for just a few minutes as a college student in Scotland, my precious friend has sadly experienced every day of her life.
Prejudice doesn't respect national borders, organizational structures or even church walls. Its darkness permeates hearts everywhere. As much as I grieve this truth, there's one who suffers an inexpressible grief, the One who created all humankind, expressing His creativity in a rainbow of ethnicities and circumstances. The source of all justice, our loving-hearted God, instructs us, "Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other" (Zechariah 7:9b-10).
Wherever you live, are you in the majority based on your skin color, nationality, paycheck or life circumstances? God calls us to love, compassion and mercy.
Are you in the minority? God loves you limitlessly and equally. His colorful creation magnifies just how big He is and how exquisite you are. He grieves over the glares of prejudice you've received, the barricades that have blocked you and the indignities you've suffered. The God of justice longs to draw you close and pour out His healing.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Revelation 7 where John sees a vision of "every nation and tribe and people and language" (Revelation 7:9b, NLT) standing before the throne of God. There will be no glares there, only eyes fixed on Jesus our Savior. There will be no divisions there, only unity as we sing our praise. There will be no prejudice there, only love.
I long for the day that God's people live the reality of Zechariah 7:9-10. Let's truly see through the lens of God's Word and lead the way in our world today!
Lord, show me my own prejudices so I can seek Your repentance. Guide me to act in ways that lead to true justice. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 2:1, "My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism." (NIV)
1 Samuel 16:7b, "The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (NLT)
When we know the Truth, it changes everything, including the way we look at others. The NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women, with devotions written by the Proverbs 31 team, helps you delve deeply into Scripture with daily applications.
Have you ever felt like everyone else's life seemed packed with blessings while yours was buried in burdens? You’re not the only one. In her new book, Love Life Again, Tracie Miles will help you identify the stumbling blocks to your joy and offer tools and insights to take back control of your happiness. The Online Bible Study begins September 4. Register today for free!
Visit Amy Carroll's blog today to learn about a resource she's been using personally to confront and eliminate prejudice, that she's excited to share with you and your group.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
When you think about your responses to people who are different than you in any way (i.e., ethnically, socially, economically, nationally), what do you want to change based on today's key Scripture?
Prayerfully follow through on one action step this week to demonstrate mercy and compassion toward a person who might have previously held some prejudice. We'd love to share some ideas in the comments!
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