Monday, October 3, 2016

3 October 2016
Luke 6:39-29

Good morning, welcome. Today Jesus gives us a final thought on judging others, and concludes His sermon by reminding His listeners (and us) hearing is not enough; His teachings must be put into practice.

He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?” Luke 6:39-40 (NRSV).
Many people over the centuries, claiming to speak for God, have led their followers (intentionally or unintentionally) down a dark and dangerous road; the practice continues today. How do we know who to trust? How do we, as disciples, become like our teacher? How do we know when we are going beyond our teacher?

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Luke 6:41
Simply put, we start with ourselves. Vs.39-42 directly connect with Jesus’ teaching about judgement in vs.37-38. The point here is found in ‘take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye’ and it is this-the things we struggle with in our day to day lives-bad habits, persistent sin, addictive behavior, whatever you choose to call it-enable us to help our brothers and sisters with their own struggles. We can say ‘I struggled with that and this is what finally worked for me’ or ‘I can’t overcome this either, let’s work on it together’. This is how programs like AA and Celebrate Recovery work-it is people lifting each other up. There have been many instances over the years of high profile Christian leaders condemning specific behavior while, at the same time, practicing the very same behavior themselves. Jesus is saying deal with your own dark side first, then go and help others deal with theirs.

The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. Luke 6:45 (NRSV)
These verses have a double meaning. First, what we do is the public expression of our inner character. Good fruit can only come when our character has been transformed into the likeness of Jesus and when our character has been so transformed it must work its way out in way we do. Second (and here I believe Jesus had religious leaders in mind, although it applies to all of us as well) behavior-what is said, what is done, and the relationship between the two-helps us discern who to accept as legitimate and who to reject. What we do defines-and is defined by-who we are, our inner character.

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.” Luke 6:46-49 (NRSV)
Here is the conclusion of the matter-hearing is not enough. Jesus’ words must be put into practice regularly. Knowing about Jesus without inner transformation is another way of putting new wine into old skins and leads to legalism and judgement, frustration and an unforgiving attitude. Once again we come to the importance of spiritual disciplines-developing holy habits. We must remember Jesus is showing us what God created us to be and the inner transformation is His work. Anything less than total commitment is, again, putting new wine in old skins and will not work. We cannot do it ourselves but we must be willing participants.

One final thought. The process of coming to know Jesus, rather than just knowing about Him, is personal and unique to each of us, but here is something you might want to try. Take some time during the day to consider ways to build others up. Watch how people react to what you do. Watch also how you react to others. You are not judging yourself here, simply noting any emotional reactions you may have had. Then, at the end of the day, bring this all to God. Allow some time for a response. Remember, prayer is a conversation and conversations require listening as well as speaking. Ask God specifically if He was speaking to you in any of your encounters during the day. I believe if you make this a regular practice the results will surprise you.

I will end with these words from the Prayer of Confession, found in the PCUSA Daily Prayer app. “In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.” 

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