Posted by: Beth | January 8, 2021

EXAMINE

EXAMINE

I want to write something light-hearted, something that will bring a smile and perhaps even a belly laugh to anyone who reads it.  However, my heart refuses to go there right now.

I am blessed to belong to a small group of women who gather to study God’s Word.  We are currently working through Jen Wilkin’s The Sermon on the Mount.  Most likely, you will recognize parts of these three chapters in the book of Matthew.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.  Judge not. Give us this day our daily bread.  The wise man builds his house on a firm foundation.  Blessed are the peacemakers. Don’t throw your pearls to the pigs. If your right hand does something offensive, cut it off. Pray in secret. Don’t worry. God cares for the birds; he cares for you.   The list goes on.

The way I summarized some of those things is misleading.  The way many are used in everyday conversations is not aligned with the meaning you get when you read it as a part of the entire sermon.  And seriously, who among us wants anyone to take a few words of ours and twist them around to mean something we didn’t intend?  I don’t think Jesus likes that, either.

Prior to this study, I was familiar with the Sermon on the Mount.  Like many other Christians, I have never read it as one sermon.  Doing so adds much depth to many of the stories with which we are familiar.  When you add explanations of first century Hebrew customs, God’s grace and calling to us is even more evident. No, Jesus did not intend for people to go around maiming themselves for their sins.  He used exaggeration to drive home some of his points. Some of the passages that seem harsh to us today can be seen as merciful and uplifting when you know the practices of those days.

As we progressed through the study, I often found myself grateful when I read the questions to make you think and apply the scripture to your life. “Oh, I’ve already handled that.”  “Oh yeah, I had a problem with that, but thank you God, not now.” “Whew!  I’ve never even struggled with that one!”  Knowing I am still very far from perfect, I was beginning to feel a little proud of my spiritual growth.

And then.  Oh then. That evening.  The boys had stretched my patience, compassion, and understanding so that it was thinner than six pound test monofilament fishing line. Another mischievous act.  More disrespect.  And then, upon my notice of discipline, “That’s not fair!”  I lost it.  I used words I hate to hear adults use when no children are around.  They did calm down and play very nicely for the rest of the evening.

Meanwhile, I was in a state of confusion, sadness, remorse, and conviction.  If what comes out of our mouths reveals what is really in our hearts, what is in my heart that is so dark? That attitude and those words are not an example of being righteously angry and sinning not.  Had I missed everything God was trying to tell me through this study of Jesus’ longest recorded sermon?  Had I been so focused on past success that I couldn’t see the current changes needed to become more like the follower God wants me to be? Of course I spent some time in prayer, alone and with a trusted friend.  The boys and I rested well.  We all snuggled the next morning.  A mistake is not the end of all things good, even when it does cause a bump in the road.

As I scrolled through social media the next few days, it was obvious I am not alone.  Many of us who call ourselves God’s children need to have a wake-up call.  We need to see ourselves not as we have grown to see ourselves, not as we want God or others to see us, but as we are.   Only when we see the brokenness and sincerely leave it at Jesus’ feet can he begin to heal us, and we all need his healing.

Romans 3:23, 6:23

#bgwww21


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