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Friday, December 05, 2008

Need a Washcloth?

By Renee Burt

Have you ever passionately believed something? Maybe you think you’re right, and no one is going to convince you otherwise. Well, passion is good…and settling on what you believe is also good. That is, unless that passion becomes so all consuming and your personal convictions become so strong, they cause you to become critical of those who don’t share your same passion or convictions. The truth is that we’re not all going to see eye-to-eye on everything concerning our faith or our life…whether it be our interpretation of a verse, or our opinions of what our pastor or boss or supervisor should or shouldn’t be doing, or our take on how to conduct our marriage or raise our children, or our passion about what things should matter most in life. And that’s okay! IF you let those things drive YOU towards God’s will for your own life…and you don’t let them drive a wedge between you and other people, who may not share your same passion or convictions. Jesus talked about a “critical spirit” in His first recorded sermon…the Sermon on the Mount. It was hugely important to Him that we not fall into the trap of becoming critical with one another. And He didn’t just preach about it…He lived it out in His own life, even though His teachings were flying in the face of the religion scholars of His day. The Bible says that “he was living everything he was saying.” So what are you saying…and more importantly, what are you living? He’s offering us a washcloth this morning to clean ourselves if we’ve been critical. I’ve already been doing some scrubbing with mine…want to join me, after you first look in the mirror of God’s Word for yourself?

Matthew 7:1-5, 28-29 MSG ~ Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor…When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.


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