Scripture: Jeremiah 7:1-15
“But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice” (Jeremiah 7:5, NLT).
This passage shows the progression of once faithful people to apostate evil-doers. It begins with evil thoughts (v.5). Greed demands more. Envy sees others as obstacles to getting more or something to be exploited in order to obtain more. The poor are despised, and their needs and rights ignored (v.6). The call for justice is ignored (v.13). Instead those whose lives are impoverished, disadvantaged, alone, or different are seen as not deserving of consideration. Contempt replaces compassion; exploitation becomes the privilege of those who are safely “blessed” (v.10). Lies replace truth, and what is idolized and desired supplants God himself.
How I think matters greatly to God. God’s merciful pardon of my sins begins with my showing mercy. Common wisdom says, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything.” Yet God’s justice requires more than refraining from verbalizing hurtful remarks. His justice begins with my responding to his message (v.13). I must allow Christ to change the way I think (Romans 12:2). What I think about others directly influences how I will treat them. I cut myself off from God’s mercy when I fail to show mercy to others for whom Christ has died. Without mercy, I will be left, like the people in Jeremiah, with a hollow, religious observance that God will eventually destroy.
Father, thank you for great mercy toward me. Forgive my evil thoughts about others. Change how I think; give me the mind of Christ. Fill me with consideration and compassion for those whose lives intersect my own. Teach me how to live out your justice. In Jesus’ name, Amen.