A True Observer

By Dane Neufeld

A Reading from Wisdom 1:1-15

1 Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth,
think of the Lord in goodness
and seek him with sincerity of heart;
2 because he is found by those who do not put him to the test,
and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him.
3 For perverse thoughts separate people from God,
and when his power is tested, it exposes the foolish;
4 because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul,
or dwell in a body enslaved to sin.
5 For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit,
and will leave foolish thoughts behind,
and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.

6 For wisdom is a kindly spirit,
but will not free blasphemers from the guilt of their words;
because God is witness of their inmost feelings,
and a true observer of their hearts, and a hearer of their tongues.
7 Because the spirit of the Lord has filled the world,
and that which holds all things together knows what is said,
8 therefore those who utter unrighteous things will not escape notice,
and justice, when it punishes, will not pass them by.
9 For inquiry will be made into the counsels of the ungodly,
and a report of their words will come to the Lord,
to convict them of their lawless deeds;
10 because a jealous ear hears all things,
and the sound of grumbling does not go unheard.
11 Beware then of useless grumbling,
and keep your tongue from slander;
because no secret word is without result,
and a lying mouth destroys the soul.

12 Do not invite death by the error of your life,
or bring on destruction by the works of your hands;
13 because God did not make death,
and he does not delight in the death of the living.
14 For he created all things so that they might exist;
the generative forces of the world are wholesome,
and there is no destructive poison in them,
and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
15 For righteousness is immortal.


It is occasionally frightening to think of the how the online world archives the things we say and do. Websites and apps track our movements, behavioral patterns, and impulses. Our browser history traces our curiosities and obsessions and in so doing, provides an outline of our character, like the edges of our shadow. Though we can adjust our privacy settings or delete our histories, part of us knows there is a strange, aggregate version of ourselves drifting in the digital world that tells a story about who we are.

The Book of Wisdom tells us: “God is witness of his inmost feelings, and a true observer of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue.” The internet mimics this Godlike power, but in a scrambled and chaotic way. It witnesses, observes, and hears without the “kindly spirit” of wisdom or the “Spirit of the Lord.” The massive memory of internet systems provides only a broken and fragmented mirror image of the One who “holds all things together.”

Though it can be concerning to consider all the online vestiges of ourselves, it is more pressing that we “think of the Lord with uprightness, and seek him with sincerity of heart.” All that we have ever been is known by God, and we cannot hide from him, nor can we deceive him with our curated online identities. What we are is plain to the Lord, a reality that is difficult to grasp and potentially unnerving once we do.

But the heart of the Easter gospel is that our sins have been forgiven and that God has shown mercy: “I will remember their sins no more” (Heb. 8:12). Our “lawless deeds” and “useless murmuring” will not be held against us, nor retained in God’s picture of who we really are. Though nothing is hidden from the Lord, many things are left behind as we are transformed into the image of his Son.

The Rev. Dane Neufeld currently serves as the incumbent of St. James, Calgary, after serving 7 years in Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta.

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Today we pray for:

The Diocese of the Rio Grande
Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church in Japan)


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