This Week & Beyond...
This coming Sunday is our team night for April!! Please don't forget to head over to 'Planning Centre' and update you availability. In addition to this, if you know someone who you think would enjoy coming, invite'm on down. Let's fill up the house!
See ya there!
by Tom Kraeuter, Hillsboro, Missouri
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29).
I have a dear friend with whom I play table tennis. We're both extremely competitive and quite enjoy an occasional ping pong match. Sometimes, though, we start talking and forget exactly what the score of the game is. As we try to reconstruct in our minds the last few points, he often assures me that he would never cheat... unless it was to his advantage. That's a comforting thought, isn't it? Of course I know he is only kidding.
However, in little ways and big ways, I have frequently "cheated" to my advantage. I have endeavored to justify my words and actions, always with an eye toward making me look better. I want to always present the best side to people and also to God.
In the tenth chapter of Luke's Gospel, Jesus was confronted by a lawyer who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Instead of offering a direct answer, Jesus responded by turning it around and questioning him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?" (Luke 10:26). The man answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27). To this response, Jesus, in essence, said, "Good answer!"
But the man wanted more. He wanted to know who was his neighbor. So he put that question directly to Jesus. "And who is my neighbor," he asked. Just prior to the question, though, we get a bit more insight into the reason behind the inquiry. "But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus..." (Luke 10:29, author's emphasis).
Why is Scripture so often so convicting? Don't misunderstand. It's not that I would ever do or say anything to justify my actions. Well, at least not since yesterday. Or was it earlier today? Maybe it was just a little while ago. Or perhaps... oh never mind. You don't need to know every sordid detail of my life. I'm really not such a bad guy.
Aaarrrggghhh!! I just did again!
Certainly such a thing could never happen in the midst of your church's worship ministry. No one there -- and certainly not you -- would ever do or say anything that would make them look or seem better than the true story. You're all much too holy for that, right?
No one there would ever subtly mention that they deserve the solo part more than that other person because of a certain trait or character quality or ability or talent. No one in your church's worship ministry would try to worm their way into a special position over and above someone else, would they?
The truth is that we all do it regularly. We "cheat" to our advantage. We justify our actions, although underneath there may be misplaced and even sinful motivations.
We rarely want anyone to know about our screw-ups. We want them to see us in the best light. We want to appear as though we really do have it all together. All the while, though, on the inside we know that we don't really have it all together. We justify our actions to make us appear better that we are.
Maybe what I've said here has pricked something on the inside of you. Perhaps you need to go and apologize to someone -- maybe even someone in the worship ministry -- for some way that you have "cheated." If so, don't put it off. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is given for a reason.
Finally, before we close, let me add one more very important thought: Don't read or listen to this with an eye toward someone else's self-justification. You might think you're not nearly as bad as someone else. If, so, then you really need to take this to heart.
1. Would you be willing to share about a way in which you have, at some point, justified your less-than-noble actions?
2. Don't miss the challenge in the devotion -- to go to someone and apologize for some way in which you have "cheated" against them. If that's you, don't shove that aside.