He summons heaven and earth as a jury,
he's taking his people to court:
"Round up my saints who swore
on the Bible their loyalty to me."
The whole cosmos attests to the fairness of this court,
that here God is judge.
-Psalm 50:4-6 (The Message)
Christians are commonly accused of judging those outside of their tribe. Psalm 50 is a good reminder that God's judgment begins with his people. God's people would be wise to remember this. The judgements we offer are subject to judgment. God's the judge, and God's fair.
This Psalm, gloriously penetrating in scope, tours us from sunrise to sunset, field to forest, creatures wild and domestic, sacrifice to sacrilege, and saint to sinner. Read it. God looks upon it all, saying, "It's all mine." The chief among possessions, however, are his people, all called to account.
God notes the shortcomings of Israel and the failings of the wicked, and says to the faithful and the rebellious, "you're mine." The warning to both is the same, "I'm the judge. I'm the creator. You're not. Heed my decrees. Come to me. I'll redeem you. I'll save you. I've done it. And I know all about your weaknesses, your failings, your filth. Live a 'praising life,' not empty religion. Faithful ones, your sacrifices don't add anything to my love of you, so don't count them as your righteousness. Don't you know that your acts of worship are themselves a gift of the covenant, not a way to twist my arm? As for the unfaithful, live a 'praising life,' not fruitless rebellion. Don't act as though we're tight, when we're not. We both know it. You're not doing justice to your neighbor, your family. We both know it. I've seen it, quietly but no less certainly, like a loving parent who hopes you'll realize your mistakes and turn over a new leaf. I'll be quiet no longer. Cut it out. Come to me."
Are you among the faithful or the unfaithful? It's likely you're a mix of both. Either way, God's the judge, and God's fair. God's love for you preceded anything you have done on God's behalf; don't forget it. God's love remained for you even though you've spurned that love; remember it. Move forward in righteousness, grounded in the love of God.
Almighty God, you are the judge, the ruler of all the earth. I'm yours. I placed my hand on the Bible and swore allegiance. You divine my heart, plumb its depths, know its contents. You know where I am faithful and where I am false. Today, fix me where I'm broken, restore me where I'm worn, make me new. Give fresh energy to my commitments, propel me forward, inspire my faith. Help me to rest in your love, and as a result of that rest, find the strength to put my life to the work that you have prepared for me to do. Amen.