1 O Lord my God, in you I take refuge;
   save me from all my pursuers, and deliver me,
2 or like a lion they will tear me apart;
   they will drag me away, with no one to rescue.

3 O Lord my God, if I have done this,
   if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have repaid my ally with harm
   or plundered my foe without cause,
5 then let the enemy pursue and overtake me,
   trample my life to the ground,
   and lay my soul in the dust.

HP operates in a quid pro quo universe. Those who do bad, suffer for their wrongdoings. Those who are righteous receive the reward of blessedness and prosperity.

This worldview bedevils much of Scripture. It characterizes almost every word of Job’s counsellors as they seek to come to terms with their friend’ grave suffering. We are not entirely free of this understanding even today. Something in us longs for an orderly universe in which those wicked people who do bad are punished for their evil deeds and we who are well-behaved are rewarded for our good behaviour.

So, HP is willing to be punished by the pursuit of his enemies if he has done wrong. But he is confident enough in his own righteousness to trust that he does not deserve the suffering that is being inflicted upon him.

The New Testament does not share HP’s self-confidence. Paul in Romans says simply, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, clearly levelled the playing field – lust is akin to adultery, anger is murder in the heart. Even the prophet Isaiah seems to grasp that in truth there is no place for dividing the world up into wicked and righteous:

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64:6

The quid pro quo view of life is simply does not accurately reflect the evidence of reality. We all know that many good people suffer grievously and many people whose actions are damaging to others appear to prosper. It is going to require a more nuanced approach to life if we are going to live in the complex messy reality of the real world.

How do I see the quid pro quo view of life infiltrating my worldview?

Lord, help me to see honestly how often I fall short of that beauty, truth and glory for which I was created.