Who’s judging who?….Just live YOUR part

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment.  This is how Chapter 7 of Matthew begins.  Jesus goes on to say: That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.  He talks of our critical nature that so easily sees; “a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. ”  He mentions that then in our spirit of “concern”, not, we offer to help:  “Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt?”  He makes a statement about here that is a repeat of what he said in chapter 6; “It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”  The words ‘just living your part,’ stood out for me. 
We know how easily we find ourselves sitting in judgment of another and neglecting to take care of our own faults.  The very act of complaining about another puts us in a worse position. When Jesus says- just live your part I’ll bet the emphasis is on the word your.  What do you think?

Be real…

 

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. 2 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure – ‘playactors’ I call them – treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. 3 When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. 4 Just do it – quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out

When we put on a show it is for others and we are showcasing ourselves.  The act of kindness, then, whatever it is, is for show and not genuinely out of a compassion that is real in us.  The attention is drawn to us and what we are doing, giving, etc. rather than obedience to God, empathizing with the one receiving, bringing glory to God…The focus is what is not right.  The spotlight is on us, and self is glorified.

Jesus ‘ whole tone here is to avoid trying to prove you are who you are.  Just be that person.  Avoid trying to impress, just be real.  So if you are putting on a show, is it real?  Is it self?  That brings us back to our relationship with God.  Are we dying to self and living for Him? If it is for us, can God work out His work through us?

Often insecurity is the driving force behind showmanship.  When we are truly secure in our relationships, we don’t have to prove anything, we don’t show-off.  When we are secure in our relationship with God, when we really believe what we believe is real, we don’t have to try to ‘prove ‘it; show-off.

And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? 6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

If your relationship with God is genuine, wouldn’t it be like any other?  When you sit down to visit with a friend or brother/sister, do you put on a show?  When it’s with someone you are close to, intimate with, share everything with do you have to put on a show proving you are their friend, proving your relationship with them is real.

Remember to keep our focus on God and His goodness. When our focus is on Him, we will do acts of kindness, pray, whatever, naturally, because we are becoming like Him, not trying to ‘act’ like him.  The key is becoming — the reality of being.

No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

 

As will be seen, generously does not necessarily mean give away lots of money, it may mean spend your time, spend your love, spend your forgiveness, spend your refusal to take offense.

  “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ 44 I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer

Bring out the best in you.  You want to retaliate when crossed.  Instead reach down into the reserves given by the Holy Spirit and respond in kindness, gentleness, love, forbearance, agreeing with your adversary, refusing to take offense. 

for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.

Like that, my true self!! I am capable because God created me so.  I simply need to remember that!!!  It is God’s nature – I’m created in His image!! I can rain love and smiles on everyone, even the one that growls…I can give them my best and refuse to take offense.

  If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. 47 If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. 48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

Christians are to be different.  That is be different, not look different.  They are to act differently. That doesn’t mean a list of do’s and don’ts, it means we don’t react like expected.  Now this is difficult.  Baby cries when baby isn’t fed right now!!! Baby cries when you take the toy away!!! Baby stomps feet and screams when crossed!!!  And we never grow up.  As adults, take my parking place,  hmmmm…, or cut in front of me, hmmmm…., or talk to me in that tone of voice, hmmmm…. Christ said, ‘Grow up.’

Live generously does not always and only  mean give away your money; it means have large reserves of love, compassion, forgiveness, forbearance, so that you can return evil with good.  The next person who crosses you; smile, love them, agree with the adversary, be generous with your good-will–wishing them well — only possible if you have large reserves and that comes with the Holy Spirit’s rainwaters and love every morning for our day’s supply!  We must do the same each evening to enjoy the sweet peace and rest of our Lord.  Breath prayer – I will not take offense, I will react in an opposite way to that expected of me.  I will live generously toward others.

what is the center of my life?

God is the center of my being.  I fall asleep talking to him, wake up talking to him, wake in the night singing praise songs.  My desire is that this becomes evident without my having to say so.  I want all of the ‘old’ gracie removed and replaced with the ‘new’ gracie, one who bears the image of God.

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. 14 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. 15 If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. 16 Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Jesus told me why I am here.  He gave me my purpose.  Salt and light.  I must become that in faith, believing that God is building those characteristics within me, so that I can please Him.  My focus is to please Him, I must continue my study to find what pleases him.

I cannot be too salty, or the food is inedible, I cannot be too bright or the light will drive away, blinding those around.  I need to learn to follow only the Holy Spirit’s prompting, not to overwhelm or be overbearing.  Manipulation is not love.  God is love, salt brings out God-flavors that can be enjoyed, light brings out God-colors that can be enjoyed.

Meek?…

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

 Wow, how do we arrive at a consistent understanding of this statement? And is it tied to our selfish natures?

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.- ESV

Those who are humble are happy, because the earth will belong to them. NCV

God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.  -NLT

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. – MSG

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth – ASV

Happy are the gentle: for the earth will be their heritage. – BBE

“How blessed are the meek! for they will inherit the Land!k – CJB

Blessed are those who are gentle. They will inherit the earth -GW

“Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised! – GNT

Blessed are the humble, For they shall inherit the eretz HNV

Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth -CSB

Blessed are those who are free of pride. They will be given the earth.- NIRV

 In the beginning: decreased pride, decreased self  – insured dominion over the earth

But:

The fall:  increased pride, led to disobedience ( ‘I can’  factor) and the result was to be thrown out of the garden to toil the earth rather than receive it

Meek is

Gentleness of spirit, mildness of disposition

Accepting God’s dealings with us as good, and so not resisting or disputing…

Wholly relying on God rather than your own strength to defend against injustice.  ( our selfish nature cries how can a loving God create evil?)

 Meekness towards evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in time. 

Gentleness or meekness is opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest.  It stems from trust in God –this individual is not occupied with self at all–this involves the work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will 

So…there is a connection between this verse and our selfish nature.  Jesus in one statement said all this…

Content with who you are:

No more

No less

The paradox is –  then you receive all?

        irony?

And the underlying principle is as I decrease He increases.  When He increases I have access to all.

Echoes from the past….

The girls come bouncing up the stairs,

       Smiles light their faces

       Laughter fills their voices

       They greet us.

       I speak with easy pleasure

Responding to the joyous spirits

    Her head stays down

    eyes averted

They reach out to touch

    she moves back, away

They speak softly

     inquisitively

She does not respond

     turns away

     finds something to do

I notice the change

          it hurts

They leave

          puzzled

One remains to hug me

     Then with a wistful look

       also leaves

She asks who they were

     then says “oh…”

These children

         the hurting ones

     look at you

         their eyes are

      deep wells of sorrow

They struggle

        to look like the rest

     they laugh

        too loud

     they talk

         so softly

     afraid they will be

          heard

They fill my classroom

      each straining

          isolated by their

           personal anguish

      to maintain normalcy

So no one will know….

Don’t tell….

Gracie Grimes Hill

Long way round…shortest way home

This is too good not to share.  Chapter 3 of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis talks about Social Morality.  One of the points made  in this chapter is that charity – giving to the poor – is an essential part of Christian morality.  Among other things he points out the need to be giving to the poor is more than generosity, ie tipping, hospitality, more to helping those who really need help.  This giving is to the point that it affects our ability to purchase items classified luxury, comfort, amusements, etc.  For most of us that is a stretch!

Also dealt with is the importance of living debt-free.  He notes that three great civilizations agreed that money should not be lent for interest.  Ancient Greece, Jewish law, and Christian teachers of the Middle Ages all told us not to lend money at interest; and lending money at interest— what we call investment–is the basis of our whole system.  So why are we surprised at the recent turn of events.  We have been amply warned throughout history of its dangers, we disregarded and created the stock exchange!! Something novel???  Would it be too much to say that if we lived debt free we would be enabled to give to the poor?

But that is a very simple summary of some complex and highly stimulating reading.  What I want to share is this.  C.S.Lewis states:

There are bits in this section that I wanted to leave out.  And that is why nothing whatever is going to come of such talks unless we go a much longer way round.  A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it: and we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian.  I may repeat “Do as you would be done by,” till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbor as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him.  And so, as I warned you, we are driven on to something more inward–driven on from social matters to religious matters.  For the longest way round is the shortest way home.

To conclude then, we cannot be put off by those who want nothing to do with ‘religion’ and must continue to strive to be real in our living our beliefs based on the Scripture we read and share.  This is more than ritual, or even belief, it is living life as obedient children of the Most High God.