FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2012
SEEK GOOD AND NOT EVIL
July 4, 2012
Today’s reading: Amos 5:14-15, 21-24
How do we experience life that is true and full? God has a simple directive: “Seek good and not evil, that you may live.” (Am 5:14a). The good is of God; evil is of the devil (see that the word for this diabolical being says it all: he is “d’ evil.” Notice also that “evil” is the reverse spelling of “live”). God only wants what is best for us, ultimately restoring us to Himself in heaven; the devil wants what is worst for us, ultimately bringing us to damnation in hell. Seeking good and not evil is ultimately seeking God and not the devil, and that is how life as God designed it is all about.
God becomes even more emphatic. God wants to emphasize how critical this seeking or this choice is. It is literally a matter of eternal life and death. Thus God says: “Hate evil and love good” (Am 5:15a). Love and hatred are the most powerful emotions. Do not just avoid evil; rather hate it. Avoid it yourself like the plague, and do whatever you can to remove evil from the life of the world. In addition, do not just try to be a good person, but desire good so much, both in your life and for the life of the world, that you would also go all-out to promote what is good.
What is one practical aspect of promoting good? It is to “let justice prevail at the gate” (Am 5:15b). Justice is of God. Justice is basically giving to the other person what is his due. To God is due awe and worship. To our fellow man is due respect as a child of God. To our spouse is due fidelity. To one’s family is due responsible parenthood. To the poor is due an equitable share in the world’s goods. The opposite of justice is injustice, which is doing the reverse of everything we have said above. It is depriving others of what God intends for them to have.
You can readily see how becoming a just person will result in good for all, and thus life for all. Again the converse is true. Let us take poverty, which deprives a great many people in the world of even the most basic goods of life, consigning them to degradation and misery. Why is there poverty? It is not because there are too many people and too little food and land. The world can produce more than enough food for even double the current population of the world. As to land, well, the world’s population can fit in the state of Texas with elbow room to spare. There is poverty because a few rich people in nations and a few rich nations in the world monopolize the resources, and do not share enough with those in need. If they only learned how to truly share, there would be no one in need, thus no poverty.
So God created a bountiful world, to be shared by His children. But because people have not been just, the great majority of people experience the bad and not the good. This spirals on itself, with the result of conflict, misery and hatred, rather than unity, peace, joy and love.
Such injustice is committed not just by so-called bad people, but by many seemingly good people, in fact, people of religious faith. Masters go to Church and then malign their servants. People place their offering on the collection bag and then cheat their customers or shortchange their employees. Parishioners sing in the choir and then backbite their neighbor or malign their perceived enemies.
To them God has a stern word: “I hate, I spurn your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemnities; your cereal offerings I will not accept, nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings. Away with your noisy songs! I will not listen to the melodies of your harps.” (Am 5:21-23a). How many people today do you think are going to churches and making their offerings, not knowing that they are rejected by God?
What should they do? How can their offerings be pleasing and acceptable to God? “But if you would offer me holocausts, then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream.” (Am 5:23b-24). There you have it. Be just! In fact, let justice surge. Make it your lifestyle. Go out of your way. Influence others. Work at justice such that the world will be overwhelmed by justice.
With justice comes goodness. And with goodness comes life.
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