Daily Reading & Meditation
1 And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; 3 and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Meditation: What can a shameless and unjust judge pitted against a crusty and pestering woman teach us about justice and vindication (to restore what is right and just) in the kingdom of God? Jesus tells a story that is all too true – a defenseless widow is taken advantaged of and refused her rights. Through sheer persistence she wears down an unscrupulous judge until he gives her justice. Persistence pays off, and that’s especially true for those who trust in God. Jesus illustrates how God as our Judge and Vindicator is much quicker to come to our defense and to bring us his justice, blessing, and help when we need it. But we can easily lose heart and forget to ask our heavenly Father for his grace and help.
Faith-filled persistence reaps the fruit of justice and grace
Jesus told the parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8) to give his disciples fresh hope and confidence in God’s unfailing care and favor towards us (grace). In this present life we can expect trials and adversity, but we are not without hope in God. The Day of the Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices perpetrated by a fallen world of sinful people and that God’s love is stronger than death (Song of Songs 8:6). Those who put their faith in God and entrust their lives to him can look forward with hope and confident assurance. They will receive their reward – if not fully in this present life then surely and completely in the age to come in God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy (Romans 14:17).
Jesus ends his parable with a probing question for us. Will you and I have faith – the kind of faith that doesn’t give up or lose hope in God – but perseveres to the end of our lives – and to the end of this present age when the Lord Jesus will return in glory as Ruler and Judge of All? Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to us. We could not believe, trust, and persevere with hope if God did not first draw us to himself and reveal to us his merciful love and care. If we want to grow and persevere in faith until the end of our days, then we must nourish our faith with the word of God and ask the Lord to increase it (Luke 17:5). When trials and setbacks disappoint you, where do you place your hope and confidence? Do you pray with expectant faith and confident hope in God’s merciful care and provision for you?
“Lord Jesus, increase my faith and make it strong that I may never doubt your word and promise to be with me always. In every situation I face – whether trials, setbacks, or loss – may I always find strength in your unfailing love and find joy and contentment in having you alone as the treasure of my heart.”
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
8 The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Persistent prayer transforms iniquity and wickedness into mercy, by Ephrem the Syrian (306-373 AD)
“How was that unjust judge immoral and wicked? How was the upright judge gracious and just? The first in his iniquity was not willing to vindicate the widow, and in his wickedness, he was not willing to put her mind at rest. The justice of God knows how to vindicate, and his grace discerns how to give life. The iniquity of this wicked judge was contrary to the justice of God, and the wickedness of this rebel was in opposition to the grace of the gentle One. His wickedness therefore was stubbornness, for it dared to go against the fear of God. His boldness was stubborn, for it refused the lowly person.”
“These two were stubborn, but persistent prayer was even more stubborn. The persistence of the widow humiliated both the iniquity that was rebelling against God and the boldness that was behaving arrogantly towards human beings. She subjected them to her will, so that they might provide her with a vindication over her adversary. Persistence transformed these two bitter branches, and they bore sweet fruit that was against their nature. The iniquity of the judge brought about a righteous judgment and a just retribution for the falsely accused woman. His wickedness gave peace to the afflicted one, although iniquity does not know how to judge, and wickedness does not know how to give refreshment. Persistence forced these two evil and bitter branches to give good fruit against their nature. If we persist in prayer, we should be even more able to prevail on the grace and justice of God to give us fruit that agrees with their nature. Let justice vindicate us, and let grace refresh us. Accordingly, the fruit of justice is the just reward of the oppressed, while the giving of refreshment to the afflicted is the fruit of grace.” (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON TATIAN’S DIATESSARON 16.16.6)