Sunday, June 27, 2010

Trinity 4: A Devotional Commentary

Genesis 50:15-21 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us, and will fully pay us back for all of the evil which we did to him.” They sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father commanded before he died, saying, ‘You shall tell Joseph, “Now please forgive the disobedience of your brothers, and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ Now, please forgive the disobedience of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also went and fell down before his face; and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore don’t be afraid. I will nourish you and your little ones.” He comforted them, and spoke kindly to them.

Romans 8:18-23 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us. As it is, the creation waits with eager expectation for the revelation of God’s children. Indeed, creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that creation will also be delivered from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the totality of creation groans and labors in pain until now. Moreover, so do we who have the first fruits of the Spirit! We groan within ourselves, awaiting the adoption, the redemption of our body.

Luke 6:36-42 Therefore, be merciful, even as your Father is also merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Set free, and you will be set free. Give, and it will be given to you: a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing will be given to you. For with the same measure you measure, it will be measured back to you.” He spoke a parable to them. “Can the blind guide the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but after being fully trained, everyone will be like their teacher. Why do you see the speck of chaff that is in your brother’s eye but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck of chaff that is in your eye,’ when you do not see the beam that is in your own eye? You hypocrites! First, remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly in order to remove the speck of chaff that is in your brother’s eye."

Nothing is more offensive than hypocrisy. One of the first things that an unbeliever will complain about is how hypocritical Christians are. Christianity has lost its identity by being turned into a list of rules to follow. Ever other religion is about rules and how to keep them. If you want a religion based on following rules, become a Jew or Muslim. The Christian looks down on all those who do not follow his list of rules and sets himself up as a teacher of others. Sometimes these rules are derived from Scripture and sometimes they are derived from the person's own imagination but either way they they deny who Christ is and what He did.

Jesus depicts the self-appointed teacher as a man who is walking around with a giant beam in his eye, trying to remove the specks out of the eyes of the people around him. We love to give advice on things that they know nothing about. We think if we read some article about a subject in the paper that now we are experts. Or if we found a solution to a problem in our lives then it can be universally applied to everyone else. If only everybody else raised their kids the way that we do the world wouldn't be so full of spoiled brats. We expect everyone else in the world to life by our own life principles.

We convince ourselves that we do a pretty good job of following God's laws and look down on those who don't. In fact we convince ourselves that we do a pretty good job of following God's law by looking at others who by our judgment are doing a horrible job at it. That guy over there is a rotten adulterer but you have been faithful to your spouse for your whole marriage. If only that guy over there could be more like you the world would be so much better. But when you make this judgment you are walking around with a giant beam in your eye. That adulterer over there probably knows he is a sinner and hopefully will come to believe that Jesus died for his adultery. But you don't think you are an adulterer and so the beam remains.

You want to read this passage as if it were saying that you have no business judging your brother if you have committed more outward sins than he has and that you are free to engage in your speck removing as long as you have put your days of adultery behind you. But the beam in this passage is the belief that you can pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and declare your own righteousness before God. You might be able to convince your brother with the speck in his eye that his adultery is not beneficial to him and get him to stop but by doing so you are just making him your disciple and leading him down the path to hell. You're just a blind leader pulling your brother into the pit with you.

By faith the beam is removed. You come to see that you are a poor, miserable sinner--far worse than the guy standing over there. By faith you come to see that you have no righteousness of your own and that you need the blood of Jesus to cleanse you from your sins. When that beam has been removed from your eye, then you can bring Christ-crucified to others. In humility and in recognition of your own sinfulness, you can tell people about the savior--not about some savior that they just need but the Savior that you need to. You'll stop looking at the specks in the eyes of others and won't try to enroll them in a moral improvement program. You are a sinner and God hung dead on a cross for your sins. Why even think about the specks?

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