Being a Christian would be easy if I never had to deal with other people.
Matthew 6:1-18, Public and Private (3/13/12)
We usually think of a “hypocrite” as someone who says one thing and does another. Christians often are accused of being hypocrites because we say we should love one another and some of us don’t, or we say we should be faithful in marriage, and some of us aren’t, or whatever. Pastor Craig made a really good point about hypocrites a few weeks ago: at least Christians think they ought to love each other, and be faithful, and whatever. Some folks don’t even claim to love other people. They don’t even expect to be faithful. Pastor Craig said, “Give me a hypocrite any day!” At least hypocrites know what Christian behavior is supposed to be!
The Greek word hupokrites means “actor.” Actors are just pretending – they aren’t really doing what they appear to be doing, and they don’t expect you to do it, either. Jesus says, when you pray, pray to God in private; don’t go out in public and pray in front of other people, like an actor. When you fast, fast for God privately; don’t go out in public and fast in front of other people, like an actor. Be a Christian; don’t just pretend to be a Christian in front of other people.
Matthew 6:19-34, Financial Planning (3/14/12)
Jesus isn’t against wealth, as near as I can tell, or even against money. Having enough money to support yourself and your family is good, and having enough to give to the poor is better. What Jesus is against is hoarding money, worrying about money, considering everything in your life in relation to money. If you consider everything in your life in relation to the kingdom of God, your money will take care of itself.
Matthew 7:1-20, Don’t Judge Others, But Stay Alert (3/15/12)
In Jack and Carol’s class on world religions, I commented that compared with a couple we have studied, Christianity is simple. You could tell an unbeliever everything he needs to know about Christianity in less time than it took me to become confused about some of the other major religions.
That is not the same as saying that being a Christian is easy. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has been laying out a lot of guidelines for Christian behavior. In today’s reading, he also points out that it’s not easy: you’ve heard of the “strait and narrow path”? Strait means narrow. The strait and narrow path is so difficult to find, Jesus says sorrowfully, that not many people are going to walk it. Good News: the Holy Spirit will go with you to guide you every step of the way!
Matthew 7:21-29, Scary Stuff (3/16/12)
Some time ago we were studying this passage in Sunday School, and fellow-reader Daryl L. made a really important point that I had never noticed before. In vss. 25 and 27, exactly the same thing happens to both houses. Some translations have differences between the two verses, so I went back and looked at the Greek. In Greek, the two sentences are indeed exactly the same, except for the word beat upon. There, some – not all – manuscripts have two different but similar words, both of which mean “beat upon”: prosepesan and prosekopsan. You might think about, say, flammable and inflammable.
Even though the houses endure the same circumstances, the one built on the rock stands, and the one built on the sand falls. Anyone who hears Jesus’ words and obeys them lives in the house built on the rock.
More about Living the Christian Life
A Call to Christian Living
Living So It Shows
Sharing the Good News
Who Is Your Legacy?
Five Spiritual Disciplines
New Life and New Standards
Living in the World
Love One Another
Again, Love One Another
And as a Final Word, Love One Another
Copyright 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
St. John’s United Methodist Church,
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and
11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. Casual worship services are held Sundays at
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are held monthly on the second Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. St. John’s feels especially called to the worship of God and to the service of our neighbors through our music program
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