Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Tag: Psalms 26

Hypocrites And Goats

January 26 – Today’s Readings – Matthew 23-25 and Psalms 26

In the NIV translation, I counted the word “hypocrite” six times in Chapter 23. This does not include references to “children of hell, blind guides, blind Pharisees, whitewashed tombs, dead men’s bones, snakes, brood of vipers, condemned to hell, murderers, torturers and persecutors of the righteous”!

Jesus Himself pronounced these “fighting words” to religious hypocrites. His words are strong enough to make the hair on your neck stand on end! Obviously God REALLY takes issue with people who profess one faith and lifestyle yet practice another. Pretenders are not high on God’s “promotion to heaven” list. As we read on, we see a connection between these rebukes and the Day of Judgment when Jesus will meet out justice to all men according to what they have done. (Always keeping in mind that forgiveness is granted when true repentance has been enacted)

Immediately following this passage is “the Parable of the Ten Virgins”, a thinly veiled rebuke to those who do not continue faithful in the christian walk. Then comes “the Parable of the Talents” where Jesus reemphasizes the “hypocrite” theme. We are left with no doubt that non-productivity in the Christian life is not an option either.

Finally we find the word “goats” describing people who were hard-hearted toward those less fortunate than themselves or those troubled with life’s issues. These “goats”, as you might have noticed, did not end their existence well either.

This part of Jesus’ character is a far cry from the usual “gentle Jesus meek and mild” or the “Jesus blesses me” clubs that we tend to belong to. This Jesus is holding all humanity (yes even You and I) accountable to a Mighty, Holy God of Judgment! Why? – Because we all need motivation in life aside from a cheerleader style of encouragement. We need a Holy Reverence for God Almighty – a “fear” of God. This brings wisdom into our lives – and what is wisdom? It is the inner voice of conscience and of the Spirit telling us what NOT to do and what TO do if we would live a godly life.

There’s no big secret to this – sometimes the thing that stops a child from disobeying is the knowledge that he will be punished if he does. Sometimes the thing that deters us from doing something wrong is that we see a police car behind us. What often keeps a Christian from living a hypocritical life is the knowledge that they have to answer to God for this lie. What then shall we do? Love Jesus, but treat your relationship with Him and others with great respect.

Questions:

1. In your opinion, is fear a valid motivator in the Christian’s life? Why?

2. How does “the fear of the Lord” affect you day to day?

Dress Code??

July 26 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 11-13 and Psalms 26

The reason Paul’s teaching sometimes seems difficult for us is that we don’t connect his instruction with the context and time frame it was written in. In this section, Paul was trying to bring order into a Church were chaos ruled. He spoke to them about “dress code” and outward appearance of the men and women in the Church because the way they dressing had great significance. If a woman dressed and looked a certain way, she was advertising herself as a sexually provocative woman or a prostitute. If a man behaved or dressed a certain way, he was saying that he was effeminate. If men or women spoke out of turn in Church services, the entire gathering would become chaotic and this atmosphere would dishonour the Lord. These seemingly insignificant issues were causing problems in the church, and Paul needed to say something so that this assembly could better reflect the glory of God.

Leaving first century customs, dress code and culture aside, we can certainly draw parallels to our present day. We too can make a very clear statement about our attitudes towards life and the things of God by how we present ourselves. Our attitudes, appearance and speech give those who come in contact with us an impression of what a Christian is or is not. As individuals we are unique – we have a certain appearance – we speak with a certain accent or dialect – we may even dress in a unique manner according to our age group or customs of our culture. We also understand that the outward appearance of a man or woman is not nearly as significant as the inward appearance – (the heart). When people meet us, they should come away with the knowledge that there is something very beautiful on the inside of us – the presence of God. Moreover, the Holy Spirit also instructs us individually about our outward appearance. If you wore the colours and “uniform” of a gang member when you came to Christ, it wouldn’t be long before you changed your clothes in honour of your relationship to Christ. If you where a “tough guy” in leathers and chains when you came to Christ, you probably would alter your looks so that people would not fear you anymore but rather be drawn to Christ. The inside of us becomes like Christ and the outward man follows suit.

Communion must have been quite a spectacle in Corinth before Paul straightened the church out. Some people seemed to be bringing picnic lunches complete with lots of booze and having a “binge feast” before the Lord, while their fellow Church members went hungry. Paul told them they were doing more harm than good and that their “communion” was not communion at all. He even went so far as to say that if they were not “recognizing the body of Christ” – and that there would be increased sickness and even death among them because of it. He went on to tell them that collectively, they were the body of Christ. In order to have a proper communion service, all members of the body had to be honoured. Paul caps off this teaching by emphasizing that love for God and love for one another is what really holds a Church together – not the spiritual gymnastics this church seemed so proud of.

Questions:

1. Do we have other “dress codes” in our society that represent rebellion to God or certain sinful lifestyles?
2. What should a Christian “look like” in order to reflect Jesus and relate to the world around us? (Hint – What did Jesus look like? What did the Pharisees look like?)

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