Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. Psalm 52:8
The word “justice” seems to come up more and more these days, especially when it comes to the things we are told to do or not do. Is it “just” to require people to wear masks? Is there appropriate “justice” for wrong-doers?
We’ve all seen the image of Lady Justice. She wears a blindfold, holds scales in one hand and a sword in the other. The blindfold represents impartiality, the scales represent the weight of evidence, and the sword represents authority.
The problem with “justice” these days is that it is not impartial, but subjective. We’ve heard the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” It seems that “justice” is also now in the eye of the beholder, or perhaps the mind/heart of the beholder. And “right” and “wrong” are becoming subjective terms as well. What one person condemns as “wrong,” another praises as “right.” It can get very confusing.
Psalm 52 reminds us that God is the ultimate judge on right or wrong. Just because we (individuals, groups, politicians, the Supreme Court, even an entire nation) claim that something is right, that doesn’t mean it is right in the eyes of God.
Psalm 52: 1-4 reads: Why do you boast, o mighty man, of mischief done against the godly? All the day you are plotting destruction. Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery. You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. You love all words that devour, of deceitful tongue.
As we read these verses, each of us is probably calling someone or some cause to mind that we would like to read these words in front of. We’re thinking, “oh, yeah, even God is against this person or idea.” However, another way to read this is to read it in a personal way, as if God is addressing me, for my own boastfulness, the sharpness of my tongue, the times when I have loved evil more than good, and lying more than the truth. More than an indictment of others, I see it as an indictment of self.
Justice belongs to God. It is God who carries the sword of authority. It is God who will weigh out our good deeds against our bad ones. It is God who will ultimately stand as judge of those who receive salvation and those who are condemned. It is the Lord who will separate the sheep from the goats. (Matthew 25:31-46)
God will judge us according to His standards, not ours. I might consider myself more of a sheep than a goat. But what is that based on? My own value of myself? How I judge myself compared to others? Some people convince themselves that only the truly evil will be condemned by God. Others think the number of condemned with be 50%. With this logic, one has to either not be the worst of the worst, or be in the top 50% (in the 49th percentile is fine).
Psalm 52:8 reads I will trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. This means that we put faith first, ahead of our own sense of justice. We put faith in God’s judgment, and thus in pleasing God ahead of pleasing ourselves. When we don’t get what we perceive to be justice, we can step away not angry, but rather confident that one can escape the judgment of another person, or of a court, or even one’s own judgment, but one cannot escape the justice of God.
There is nowhere in the Bible that says we can’t say our peace. In fact, there is nothing wrong with sharing your thoughts so long as they are shared with love and respect, and with the grace to realize that not everyone will agree with you. There are times when I have shared my thoughts and others have disagreed with them. Sometimes I have shared them again passionately and been able to change the minds of people and other times all the passion in the world doesn’t get anyone to budge and I have to be content that I said my peace and be done. Ultimately, however we feel on whatever issues we have feelings about, we have to let God be the final judge and trust in His judgment. For as we read in John 5: 30, Jesus said, “I can do nothing on My own authority; as I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I seek not My ow will, but the will of the Father who sent Me.” Our call is to do the will of God, to love others, to serve others, and to glorify Him. Ultimately, He will judge each of us on how well we’ve done that. He won’t judge us based on whether we were rich or popular or even if we had the loudest voice. He will judge us on love and service, as He defines both.
Finally, as we read in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.” When we trust in people, and even when we trust in ourselves, we are often disappointed. This is why we must place our trust in God—in His love, mercy and judgment.
Why do you boast, o mighty man, of mischief done against the godly? All the day you are plotting destruction. Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery. You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. You love all words that devour, of deceitful tongue. But God will break you down forever; HE will snatch and tear you from your tent; He will uproot you from the land of the living. The righteous shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and sought refuge in his wealth!” But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank Thee forever, because Thou hast done it. I will proclaim Thy name, for it is good, in the presence of the Godly. Psalm 52
Put your trust in the Lord!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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