Daily Devotion for September 2, 2020

Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.  But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”  Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?  Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”  (Genesis 20:1-5)

There is much to learn from the experience of Abraham. There are consequences in both our words and our actions. If we are not careful, what we say or do will get us and others into conflict and deep trouble, putting ourselves and others into an unsafe and difficult situation, even our community and country.
 
The trouble of injustice we experience today is a direct result of words people say and actions people take upon each other. Someone may tell the truth but the one who listens may hear it as a lie. Someone who tells a lie may be believed they are telling a truth. George Floyd said “I can breathe,” but none of the officers believed him. A black man did not have a gun, but the officer shot him anyway, because the officer believed he had a gun. So people act based on what people hear and believe, and they act with or without knowing the real truth and its consequence, whether it is good or bad, truth or lie. Regardless who is right or wrong, and often not only the individual or the two parties involved suffer, but many if not all have to pay for the price, whatever it may cost.
 
The story of Abraham and Abimelek is a perfect example. What Abraham said about Sarah, “She is my sister,” got him into trouble… losing his wife. How Abimelek acted based on Abraham’s words, in good conscience, would bring destruction to his life, family and his kingdom together. The shooting and murdering of innocent black men by the people who are to protect them are the consequence of this dichotomy: truth and lie, good and bad. Who is right, who is wrong may often be difficult to determine.
 
Of course, Abraham was also right in what he said and Abimelek in what he did. What is important and unjust in our society today is the perception that the one who has higher privilege is often regarded as the good and the one who tells the truth, leaving the one who is under-privileged to face the consequence. How can we live, overcome, and be free from the fear of this perception, its dichotomy and consequence?
 
Jesus said, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Only the truth can solve the problem between Abraham and Abimelek. Speaking the truth, knowing the truth and, acting on the truth in love will help solve and prevent many of our social and racial problems today – from the President down to the least citizen in our society. More lies will get us into deeper trouble, unrest and protest, as an individual, a group, a community or a nation. But truth will bring healing, reconciliation, peace and love… the most important element of all, for love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

 May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.

HMONG VERSION

Aplahas tsiv qhov ntawd mus rau nram Neke tebchaws mas nws mus tsuam chaw nyob ntawm lub moos Khade thiab lub moos Su ntu nruab nrab. Nws mus nyob hauv lub moos Kelas ib ntus. 2Aplahas hais txog nws tus pojniam Xala hais tias, “Yog kuv li muam.” Anpimelej uas ua vajntxwv kav lub moos Kelas thiaj li txib neeg mus coj Xala los. 3Ces hmo ntuj Vajtswv txawm tshwm rau Anpimelej ua npau suav pom mas nws hais tias, “Koj yuav tuag tiag tiag li vim tus pojniam uas koj coj los no twb yeej muaj txiv lawm.” 4Tiamsis Anpimelej tsis tau mus ze Xala li mas nws thiaj hais tias, “Au tus Tswv, koj txawm yuav muab haiv neeg uas tsis txhaum tua pov tseg thiab lov? 5Vim Aplahas civ hais tias, ‘Nws yog kuv li muam,’ thiab tus pojniam no kuj hais tias ‘Aplahas yog kuv li nus,’ qhov uas kuv ua no kuv lub siab yeej ua ncaj ua ncees thiab kuv txhais tes yeej tsis tau ua txhaum li.” (Chivkeeb 20:1-5)

Muaj ntau yaam kws peb yuav kawm tau ntawm Alahaas lub neej.  Peb yuav tau them nujnqe rua tej lug kws peb has lossis tej yaam kws peb ua.  Yog tas peb tsi ceevfaaj, yaam kws peb has hab peb ua yuav dlau moog ua kev tsi sibhum xeeb hab kev kub ntxhuv, ua rua peb hab lwm tug ntsib teebmeem hab kev nyuab sab.
Tej teebmeem kev tsi ncaajnceeg kws peb raug najnub nua tub vim yog lug ntawm tej lug kws tuabneeg has hab tej yaam kws tuabneeg ua, ib leeg rua ib leeg.  Yuav muaj tug has qhov tseeb tabsis tug noog yuav nov tas yog lug dlaag.  Yuav muaj tug has lug dlaag tabsis lwm tug yuav ntseeg tas yog lug tseeb.  George Floyd tau has tas, “Kuv ua tsi taug paa” tabsis cov tub ceevxwm tsi muaj leej twg ntseeg.  Ib tug txiv neej dlub tsi muaj phom tabsis tub ceevxwm laam xuas phom tua nwg le, vim tas tug tub ceevxwm ntseeg tas nwg muaj phom.  Yog le tuabneeg ua raws le yaam puab nov hab ntseeg, hab puab ua raws le puab paub lossis tsi paub qhov tseeb hab qhov teebmeem kws yuav lug raug, txawm tas nws yuav phem los zoo, tseeb los cuav.  Txawm yuav has tas leej twg yog los leej twg txhum, hab ntau zag tsi yog ib tug lossis ob tog tuabneeg ntawd xwb txhaj raug kev ntxhuv sab, tabsis peb txhua tug ho tseem yuav tau them qhov nujnqe kws puab ua hab has, txawm nws yuav yog yaam dlaabtsi.
 
Zaaj keebkwm ntawm Alahaas hab Anpimelej yog ib zaaj qauv zoo tshaajplawg.  Yaam Alahaas has txug Xalas, “Nwg yog kuv tug muam”, ua rua nwg raug teebmeem… luas txeeb nwg tug quaspuj.  Qhov Anpimelej tau ua los yog raws le Alahaas tej lug has, ua ncaaj ua nceeg, tabsis nwg tseem yuav raug puamtsuaj, nwg tugkheej, nwg lub cuab lub yig hab lub teb lub chaw taagnrho.  Kev tua tuag cov txiv neej dlub lug ntawm cov tub ceevxwm kws yuav tivthaiv puab yog qhov nujnqe lug ntawm ob yaam nuav: qhov tseeb hab qhov cuav, qhov zoo hab qhov phem.  Tug twg yog tug yog lossis tug twg yog tug txhum yuav ceeblaaj paub tau.
 
Tseeb tag, yaam Alahaas tau has yeej yog lug tseeb hab yaam Anpimelej ua yeej tsi txhum.  Yaam tseemceeb hab tsi ncaaj nceej nyob rua peb lub zej lub zog naj nubnua yog txuj kev ntseeg kws has tas tug tuabneeg kws muaj privilege sab txhaj yog tug zoo hab tug has lug tseeb, ua rua tug tuabneeg kws muaj privilege qeg yuavtsum tau raug qhov teebmeem tsi zoo.   Yuav ua caag peb kev ua neej nyob txhaj yuav kovyeej hab dlim tej kev txhawj ntshai ntawm txuj kev ntseeg ob yaam nuav—tseeb hab cuav?
 
Tswv Yexus tau has tas, “Qhov tseeb yuav tso peb dlim” (Yuhaas 8:32).  Ruas yog qhov tseeb txhaj dlaws tau teebmeem ntawm Alahaas hab Anpimelej.  Kev has lug tseeg, kev paub qhov tseeg hab kev ua raws le qhov tseeg hab kev hlub txhaj yuav paab dlaws hab tivthaiv tau ntau yaam teebmeem kws peb raug najnub nua… lug ntawm tug President nqeg moog rua tug pejxeem yau tshaajplawg nyob rua pe blub zej lub zog.  Lug dlaag ntau yuav ua rau peb habyam yuav ntsib teebmeej luj, kev nyob tsi tug hab kev sibtawm tsaam, tsi has yuav yog ib tug, ib paab ib pawg, ib zej ib zog lossis taagnrho ib lub tebchaw.  Tabsis qhov tseeb yuav khu tau tug mob kuas zoo, paab tau kuas muaj kev sibhum xeeb, kev nyob kaaj sab hab kev sibhlub… yaam kws tseemceeb dlua dlaim txhua yaam, vim kev hlub kovyeej ntau yaam kev txhum, kev puamtsuaj puagntsoog (1 Pestus 4:8).