Tuesday 23 August 2016

Bible Book:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (v. 21)

Matthew 7:21-23 Tuesday 23 August 2016

Psalm: Psalm 140:1-7


These are very alarming verses, especially for those who spendmuch, if not all, of their time involved in church-related activityof one kind or another. Jesus was speaking to an audience which waslikely to have included officials of the local synagogues, perhapseven scribes and Pharisees. These were, for the most part, goodpeople whose life was devoted to the maintenance of the law and itstraditions and practices. The issue Jesus had with some of them wasthat they placed observance of the law before the spirit of thelaw.

On this occasion, Jesus was emphasising that doing good simplyfor the sake of doing good is not sufficient. And the things towhich Jesus referred were, and are, very good: preaching thegospel, exorcising evil spirits and effecting miracles. The issuehere is the spirit in which things are done: is this aboutself-aggrandisement and winning public esteem, or is it aboutobedience to the will of God? Jesus was declaring that what wasrequired was not mere religious observance, but a spirit in tunewith God. The critical thing is whether or not we are obedient.

Traditionally, Methodist people renew their covenant with God atthe beginning of every year: each person affirms that

"I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
  put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you
  or laid aside for you…"

This is a promise to commit to the will of God first, and to putpersonal ambitions and plans second. And, make no mistake about it,this is very challenging - the approval and recognition of thosearound us is much more tangible and gratifying than that of a God,who we cannot see with the human eye. But, as most people know alltoo well, public approval is not a particularly solid basis onwhich to build!

To Ponder

  • Reflect on a time when you may have done something which, whilegood in itself, you did only because of how well others would thinkof you?
  • Does church 'busy-ness' sometimes get between you and God? Whatcan you do about that?

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