Friday, September 28, 2012

Weighing Words





Scripture

But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness.
(Luke 11:39 NASB)
“You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?
(Luke 11:40 NASB)
“But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you.
(Luke 11:41 NASB)
One of the lawyers said to Him in reply, “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.”
(Luke 11:45 NASB)
But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
(Luke 11:46 NASB)
“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.”
(Luke 11:52 NASB)

 

Observation


As Jesus became more popular in his ministry he became a greater threat to those who had the religious power. They constantly came after him, trying to catch him in something they thought was incorrect. Jesus was certainly critical of them, telling them that they cared more about how they looked on the outside than how they truly were on the inside, and for Jesus, what was on the inside of the individual is what mattered. The religious leaders also brought the lawyers into the conversation and they too combed over every word which came out of Jesus' mouth. They couldn't wait to catch him in something that they thought was just not quite right. Jesus became indignant with them for he knew that their heavy criticisms and judgements were creating a situation in which people felt stifled -- that they could not express themselves, nor explore greater knowledge for fear of being judged for the words that they spoke.

 

Application


The onset of mass-media has created an environment in which we must also carefully weigh our words. There are certain individuals who want to make sure that we are very clean on the outside and are measuring every word which is spoken or written to see if it measures up to a particular code or standard. The use of certain terminology has been deemed heretical and has brought us to a place where just as Jesus predicted, we cannot even have the conversations which are the keys to knowledge. Gaining knowledge and understanding is not borne out in a vacuum. Sometimes we need the "space" to be able to "think out loud" and work out our salvation. Jesus knew that grace was necessary for people to grow spiritually and yet he complained that the lawyers weighed people down with burdens that were hard to bear. Of course, the lawyers themselves did not hold themselves to this standard.

This morning this story has given me pause as I have thought about who we are as followers of Christ. Within the Christian world I hear and read much criticism of one another over politics, theological positions and our interpretation of the word. By being so openly critical have we created a burden which is too difficult to bear? Have we stifled healthy conversation that might help us engage today's world in a much more effective manner? May we learn from Christ, who is our example, that we must be changed on the inside and extend grace to those around us who may not agree with our opinions but who are working out their salvation in a space in which they have the freedom to not have to weigh every single word which comes from their mouth.

 

Prayer


Lord, please help me today to allow you to clean the "inside" -- while at the same time helping me not to judge others from the "outside." Amen.

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