Wednesday, August 22, 2012

When you ask for bread, I'm not going to give you a rock, silly.

Allow me to introduce you to the most convicting verse in the whole gosh-darn bible:

“Beware of practicing you righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

Okay, maybe that’s just me.  But I have to confess that this is sometimes my motivation for serving others.  This is sometimes my motivation for sharing the gospel.  This is sometimes why I blog.  This might even be a part of why I’m blogging right now.  A pretty good marker that lets me know when I’m living out of this mentality is that my behavior drastically changes depending upon my audience.  When I’m around Christian friends I do my best to seem “super-spiritual” *said with a lisp*.  Then when I get in the presence of non-Christians I hide the most important part of my life.  Now I’m not saying there aren’t times when it’s prudent to remain silent about your faith or to just share bits and pieces at a time depending on the situation.  I’m just saying it’s unhealthy when my reservation comes out of fear that my friends will think less of me.  Good news is often controversial news.  On the flip side, it can be very life-giving to share what God’s doing in my life with my Christian friends.  A crucial portion of this verse is “in order to be seen by them.”  This means that you are sharing—and probably exaggerating—what you’re doing for God in order to impress people. 

What’s cool about the bible is that God can use the same text to communicate to us in so many different ways.  I can re-read the same passage during various seasons of my life and understand something completely different each time.  I think it was meant to be that way.  God wouldn’t ask us to read a book for our whole lives if it was going to bore us to death by being the same thing every time.  I would argue that this is why one critique of the bible is that it “contradicts” itself (but that’s another blog post).  I have read Matthew many times because when I run out of steam I always go back to the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  This time after reading the verse above, I proceeded to read the rest of chapter 6 on to the beginning of chapter 7.  It was like watching every one of my struggles played out in an ugly sin-montage.  Thanks a lot God.  J 

I have never considered the significance of the relationship between these passages.  This time around, the connection between these passages seemed crucial.  I began wondering.  Why are they back-to-back in the bible?  What do they have to do with one another?  These are all things I have been/am currently struggling with.  So here’s what I feel like God was telling me: 

“Trying to gain people’s approval by being holy is a slippery slope to go down.  When you try to please people through serving me you choose the lesser reward of people being impressed by you rather than the rewards I will give you in heaven for being my faithful servant.  You are laying up treasures on earth rather than in heaven.  And that means that your heart is on things that rust and destroy rather than eternal things.  That means that you’re trusting money—your own efforts—rather than me.  This makes you anxious.  When you trust in yourself you begin to wonder if you’ll even have enough food to eat or clothes to wear.  When you’re living under this system you often start to judge others.  Since you’re living to please them instead of me, you basically allow them to be your judge.  So you start to think you can be their judge.   All the while missing huge issues that need dealing with in your own life.  How can you give something as precious as your heart to people who can’t possibly take care of it, rather than me?  All of this roots back to your core belief that I don’t want good things for you.  But even earthly parents know how to give good things to their sons and daughters.  Of course I, you perfect Father, will give you good things.  Here is the answer child:  Ask me for what you need.  When you ask me for bread, I’m not going to give you a rock silly.  I will give you more than you are even able to imagine.  Seek your fulfillment in me. Come to me and I will let you into my presence and you will be satisfied.” 

Matthew 6:1-7:11 Chelsea Standard Version

Any thoughts on this?  Did you know all those golden passages were next-door neighbors?  (I didn't!)  What has God been teaching you lately?

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