July 17 - 22
Monday, July 17 – “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:39) With everything going on, we all need to revisit this command. Jesus gave this answer in response to a question that wasn’t being asked out of love. With all our political divisions, religious divisions, racial divisions, age divisions, nationality divisions, gender divisions and the like, we have forgotten Jesus’ basic message of love. Regardless of your view on anything, never forget that love for each other, lived out as a decency toward and respect for each other, serves as the basis for all the law and the prophets.
Tuesday, July 18 – “Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” (Mark 7:13) God made all of this very simple – Love God and love your neighbor. We have made all of this very difficult with our human additions, aka traditions. We have set up so many rules and regulations between, not us and God, but other people and God. We make God attainable only through our hierarchical structures. We have set on others our expectations for behavior. Without thinking about the affects of our behaviors on others. Today, maybe you can find some peace in the fact that humans have always done this.
Wednesday, July 19 – “Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Mathew 23:23) Modern translation: You can lie, cheat, steal, be a bigot, a sexist, a cheater, and the like, just as long as you tithe 10% of your income to the church. Throw a handful of dirt into a pool and you will have a dirty pool. You can’t be good in one area of your life and act horribly in another. Unless, of course, being a hypocrite is your goal.
Thursday, July 20 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Mathew 5:17) Jesus makes it very clear that he didn’t come to start something new. He came to fulfill that which God has been doing, since the beginning of time. Through Jesus, being back in the Garden of Eden in our relationship with God, is a possibility. For through Jesus all sin-debts have been paid. You can now enter into God’s presence with thanksgiving. Isn’t that enough for you? Then why do you feel the need to lord this fact over everyone who doesn’t look like you, think like you, talk like you, act like you or believe like you?
Friday, July 21 – “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) Who is your enemy? I’m serious. Take some time today and clearly define who you believe is your enemy. Then take some time today and pray for your enemy. Take some time today and figure out how you can love your enemy. Then, take some time today and get busy doing it. There’s a very good chance that you will soon discover that who you thought was your enemy, truly isn’t your enemy.
Saturday, July 22 – “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) The Golden Rule is proof that we are created in the image of God. All religions share a form of Jesus’ teaching – Buddhism, Confucianism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism and, of course, Christianity – all believe in the Golden Rule. So, why is it that we don’t do a better job? If this teaching is so accepted by such a wide cross section of people in our world, why are we all so bad at living it? I will leave that for you to ponder this weekend.