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The Blessings of the Righteous

"The Blessings of the Righteous" |January 31, 2015 Order Info

Texts: Proverbs 10:1–14; Matthew 19:19; Proverbs 11–12; John 3:16; Proverbs 13

“Work Sets You Free.” The sign over the concentration camp gave Greta hope. She was 19 years old when forced onto a cargo train in April 1944 with her parents during World War II. Since she had not committed any crimes, she thought she would only be at Auschwitz for a few months.

But for the next 10 months, every morning at line call, Greta Wienfeld Ferusic had to yell out her prison identification number: A9233, which had been tattooed onto her arm. After being separated from her parents upon arrival, she never saw them again. Now, 70 years ago this week, she recalls the horrors of survival in the Nazi-run death camp that murdered 1.1 million Jews.

Greta survived because of her captor’s efforts to cover up the crematoriums as the Red Army approached to liberate the camp. Healthy prisoners were commanded to march west out of the camp. Greta refused to leave and stayed in a building that was turned into a hospital. When the Soviets came, she was rescued and fed. (Almost all who were forced on the death march eventually died from exhaustion or were shot.) When she returned home, she realized that she was the sole survivor in her entire family. [1]

Our Sabbath school lesson this week looks at the topic of righteousness in the book of Proverbs. The memory verse states, “Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked” (Proverbs 10:6, NKJV). God promises to bless those who walk in the path of wisdom, who uphold heaven’s laws, and who live by justice.

But those who rebel against wisdom and live in selfishness will end up in violence. Regardless of their words, their actions will reveal the true motives of the heart. Many stand by the creed, “You shall use your neighbor for yourself.” The Bible says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). The contrast between these two pathways is stark when we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1945 liberation of concentration camps like Auschwitz.

We’re all inclined to cover our evil acts, to conceal impure or hateful thoughts, and destroy the evidence of our misdeeds. Rudolf Höss, Commandant of Auschwitz, tried to conceal the mass murders by burning files and blowing up gas chambers. It didn’t work. The answer for us all is not to hide from truth, but to submit our lives before the eyes of One who sees all.

Solomon tells us, “He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known” (Proverbs 10:9). How would you like to be remembered?

~ cr

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