“When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the resident alien; I am the Lord your God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
As followers of Jesus, we are not beholden to the laws given to the people of Israel. They are part of an old covenant that predates the one we have with God in Christ. Our only law is Jesus’ command to love one another as He loves us. That being said, there is great wisdom in terms of shaping a country’s national policy in the various laws God gave the people to govern themselves. The question is: How do such laws apply in a modern setting and through the lens of Christ? Let’s consider this today through the lens of this intriguing law.
“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever been in mid-thought only to say something that triggers another thought, but this new thought is so overwhelming that you have to stop and address it? As we get into the last major teaching section of Hebrews before the author’s lightning round big finish, that’s exactly what seems to happen. This thought of his is something that’s gotten into my own head and heart and I can’t stop thinking about it. Let’s talk this morning about his thought and why it matters so much.
“Let your speech always be gracious and seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
I don’t tweet. I never have. I hesitate to say, “I never will,” because who knows what the future holds. I was a hold-out on texting until long after it had caught on pretty widely and my lack of texting was actually causing frustration for people close to me. Now I send dozens, if not hundreds, of texts a day. But tweeting is different to me. I understand you’re not limited to 70 or even 140 characters any longer, but it is intended to be a short-form type of communication. I don’t really do short-form communication. Especially when it’s digital. The risk of being misunderstood or misinterpreted or taken out of context is just too great. Even when I text, I use full sentences and punctuation, and my texts tend to have more words than fewer. Also, I write like I talk, and I don’t talk in soundbites. But I am aware that tweeting is pretty popular, that some tweets generate multiple responses, and that sometimes, to be engaged culturally, you have to at least be aware of Twitter. With that in mind, I recently saw a tweet to which someone responded publicly, and this response generated quite a few comments. Normally I don’t give much credence to that kind of thing, but for some reason this one caught my eye…and what I saw bothered me. What bothered me was not so much that I disagreed with the response to the tweet along with most of the comments, but rather that they were generally posted by people I know and respect. Still, jumping into a comment-train is a little like jumping into a swimming pool filled with concrete – there’s no good way to swim across it, and eventually you get stuck without accomplishing very much – so, I held my digital tongue. But as I’ve continued to process the whole thing, I feel like I need to respond. This may or may not advance the conversation, but I am going to be as clear as I can, as charitable as I can, and thorough (remember: I don’t do short-form communication). Here goes.
“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
I love stories of redemption. The greater and more profound the turnaround, the better. They are even better when the person who experiences the most dramatic turnaround is the one you least expected, the one who seemed to be the furthest gone. At the end of this incredible passage, Paul helps us see that the turnaround God has planned for us is just this dramatic. We’ve seen how we were totally lost to sin. We’ve seen how God nonetheless planned to save us in Christ anyway so that His glory might be revealed in us. Here, we see just how amazing is the gift we have in Him. Let’s explore it together.
It is great to finally be back. My family had a fantastic and much needed several days away. I’m ready, though, to hit the ground running this morning. I’ve got the next few weeks through Mark sketched out and can’t wait to dig into Jesus’ final days with you. We’ll also look at some things going on in the culture around us that resonate with the Christian worldview in powerful ways. You won’t want to miss a single part of the journey that lies ahead of us. Thanks for reading and sharing.
“Then they sent some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to Jesus to trap him in his words. When they came, they said to him, ‘Teacher, we know you are truthful and don’t care what anyone thinks, nor do you show partiality but teach the way of God truthfully. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever had someone try and use your words against you? If you’re a parent, you’ve probably had that experience. You draw a line in the sand with one kid, and later, when another kid comes up against the same sort of experience and you’re considering letting them cross it for some reason, the other will loudly remind you of your words to make sure nothing unfair takes place. Or, at least, that’s what I’ve heard. In a larger sense, U.S. citizens have the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution to protect us from our words being unfairly used against us in a legal setting. The experience of having someone take words you’ve said and twist them around for their own ends ranges from frustrating to horrible. As the religious leaders kept trying to find some way to take Jesus down, they sent a group of Pharisees and Herodians to do this very thing.