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Psalm 37: 1-11, 39-40

Psa 37:1 Fret not thyself because of evil–doers, neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness.

A few weeks ago, during the government shutdown, I was talking to a woman whose husband was one of the folks who had to work, even though he was not being paid. She explained that she had voted for the current administration, but was upset that her family was being punished financially. She said, “I voted for this, but the wrong people are being punished. They were supposed to punish the right ones.”

We have come to a very polarized time in our country’s history where so many feel that there are just two sides to every matter: the right side and the wrong side. And often the wrong side is just anyone who does agree for whatever reason. So much time and energy is devoted to teaching the other side how wrong they are. After all, liberals just want to kill babies. Conservatives just want to harm immigrants or people of color. Social justice warriors versus traditional American values. Support the military. Support the women. But whatever you think, you have to shout loudly and fight the other side because, you know, they are evil.

Enter then the Psalm of David. Don’t fret and don’t envy the evil-doers. It doesn’t say whom the evil-doers are. It merely says don’t worry about them or envy them. I was recently in a discussion with a member of a denomination that does not ordain women. As I attend a Catholic University, that’s not so hard to imagine. But this person was exceptionally wedded to the idea of an all male priesthood and was pretty sure that if I, as a woman, ever took to the pulpit, regardless of what my tradition allows, that I was an enemy of God and working to do evil in the world. I was the evil-doer according to this very convicted young man and he was determined to convince me of that. But, I know who has called me and I know that I am following that call. So, I asked this young man why he felt he had to defend God? If, as he said, this calling wasn’t really from God, wouldn’t God take care of it? If it was from God, wouldn’t he just be fighting God? After all, that’s what Gamaliel said to the Sanhedrin in Acts 5.

I wonder sometimes how often we as Christians rush in, especially in this particularly polarized time, to convince the “other side” of their evil ways. This Psalm goes one and talks about divine justice, but we have to remember that it is not for us to decide who receives what justice. We are not the tools that deal out that justice, either. We are called to live lives of love, not lives of verbal violence that punish the “right” people. Mainly because we simply cannot know who is ultimately right or wrong. Judging the heart can only be done by the one who sees the heart and that is not us. We are to live in the land and, well, let live. Justice belongs to God and God will see to it. Trust God to do God’s job.