Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

Saturday, November 29

Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble, or else the Lord will see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from them.
—Proverbs 24:17

Some of us are probably still recovering from an election season where distraction again became a refined and powerful political technique. To put it mildly, we are easily distracted. Are we successful?

Our success may distract us from the measures we took to achieve that success. When our problems seem insurmountable and despair comes our way, that too has the power to distract. If medical conditions dominate our thinking and hold our attention hostage, that also distracts us from the ongoing blessings of life—a sense of humor, friendship, and the presence of a loving God.

In today's verse we see that even God can become distracted. If we rejoice at the downfall of a perceived enemy, God will become so upset with our lack of civility that he will end up forgetting to punish the wrongdoers and will turn his anger towards us. Us?  But we're not like them!

During the Los Angeles riots, I called a friend to see if he was okay. He is also a pastor, and I knew his perceptions on those days of violence would be both truthful and insightful. He described driving through the streets near his church. On each block there were broken windows. Flames destroyed building after building but there were no police, and no fire brigades to put out the fires. It was as though all the expected behavior of civil society had evaporated. But then he made a confession.

“I drove by a golf shop,” he said. “The windows were broken, and it was being looted. Nobody was doing anything to stop it. And I'll tell you I almost slowed down and went in myself.” We both laughed. He knew he would have done no such a thing. But the moment had uncovered a side of himself he had once been able to ignore. He realized the power of distraction and conscience. As for me, I don't play golf, but had it been a book store, his story could have been mine.

In a world of distraction, the God of life calls us to truth. Once again humility becomes not a nice idea but an essential part of our existence.

Help us stay focused, Wonderful Counselor, that we may replace distraction with truth, knowing that you would have us freely forgive our neighbor who, on second thought, are just like us. Amen.