Woe to Hypocrites (Matthew 23: 23-27, NIV) by Carley Evans


23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

The appearance of morality makes some people believe they are actually moral. Some people convince themselves that by avoiding this or avoiding that, promoting this or promoting that, believing this or believing that, performing this or performing that — that these acts somehow make them holy; not only holy, but holier than someone else who hasn’t bothered to clean the outside of the cup and dish.

Cleaning the inside of the cup and dish is much trickier than we care to admit. And much harder than doing a quick spiff-up of the outside.

How do you rid yourself of lust, greed, self-hatred, hatred of others, anger, deceit, mean-spiritedness, and yes, hypocrisy?

Jesus says to clean the inside of yourself and then the outside will automatically be clean. He warns us not to put on a disguise but to become genuine from the inside out.

He tells us how to do this, too. He does not ask us to avoid this or that, do this or that — after all, He picked wheat on the Sabbath! Instead, He promises to reside inside us. By being inside us, He makes us clean — akin to having an automatic dishwasher inside our hearts!

This automatic dishwasher is God, the Holy Spirit. He gently but persistently reminds us that the most important matters of the Law — the Law Christ fulfilled by His Life and Death and Resurrection — are “justice, mercy, and faithfulness.”

I love how Jesus Christ links the three, making them one in Him.

Advertisements

You Have Heard It Said


Was it November, 2015 when Paris erupted in violence because a handful of human beings decided god was on their side and therefore against the people of that great city? Was it April, 2016 when Brussels became a place of death and destruction because the same handful of human beings decided god was on their side? Was it September, 2001 when that same group of human beings decided god was against the United States of America?
A long time ago and yet today, Jesus said that if a violent man comes against you to strike you, do not resist. In fact, offer him a new target — your other cheek. (Other than Jesus, the only person I know who has done this well is Mahatma Ghandi. Martin Luther King is a close second.)
In the light of human beings who hate so much that they are willing to kill themselves to accomplish killing others, how do we reconcile Jesus’ call to not resist this level of evil?
I heard that on the morning after the attacks in Brussels, people were back at work, refusing to be afraid. And I thought of Jesus’ words, “Do not resist an evil man.” Is Jesus asking us to ignore evil and evil people? I’m not certain that’s possible. How do you ignore someone who is trying to kill you and your family? I don’t think Jesus asks us to ignore evil in others. (We are to resist evil in ourselves.) I think Jesus expects us not to resist evil people — not to take up arms against them, not to go to war against the countries they occupy, not to strike back. Does that make sense? Probably not to our limited minds. Would Hitler have gone on killing Jews if people had not resisted him? Would Stalin have decimated his own country if no one had resisted? We certainly believe these outcomes!
What sort of resistance should we offer against such evil?
I don’t know, but I do know that when I heard that the people of Brussels refused to be afraid, I was relieved. To sow fear is the main objective of a handful of human beings who believe god is on their side and against us — the real people of the world.

“Stop Fighting” ( Ephesians 4: 1-3, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Today, writing from prison, I think Paul might be emphatic. He might scribble ( ‘see, I write these words in my own hand’ ): “Stop fighting!” before he explains why Christians should not bicker. Paul does write gently here; and a bit later in his letter to the church at Ephesus, he begs his fellow believers to “speak the truth in love.” But, here he implores them (“I urge you”) to “accept one another in love.”

4 Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love,diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

Paul calls Christians to humility, gentleness, patience, acceptance ( tolerance! ) all of which lead to unity and “the peace that binds us.”

So how do Christians who disagree stop fighting? What is “speaking the truth in love?”

Examples (from a written social network debate) of “truth speaking”:

Person #1: “Heretic warning”  then boldly typed N-A-M-E of heretic. Then, “BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.”

Person #2: “Beware that the good presentation you give is not clouded by pride.”

Which spoken truth do you think Paul prefers? And, more importantly, which statement sounds more like God, the Holy Spirit?

“Kept in Perfect Peace” ( Isaiah 26:3, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Like a baby in the arms of a loving mother, so we – as Christians – rest in our trust of God who loves us. If we fully trust a perfect God, then we are kept in perfect peace, for we are trusting in the God who is perfect. Hence we have a perfect peace.

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.