Tag Archives: actions

All for you

It’s all for you,
or is it perhaps
more about me?

Do I want everyone to see
what a good person I am,
how selfless
and generous.

Do I do it
to splash across social media,
hope it makes the news,
that I can be somebody?

Do I want everyone to think
that I am better
than I know I am?
Kinder,
more caring,
more devout?

Do I want to believe that about myself,
to feel better about how I live
and what I do?

But it should be for you alone.
To help you
improve your lot.

For you God,
to act how you want me to.

May I find my generosity,
my value,
my worth
in my relationship with you
ongoing,
gentle,
faithful
and not in grand gestures
that don’t last
or carry on

Forgive me Lord
for the times
I’ve made it about me.
how I look.
the show I can put on

and not about you,
serving you,
loving you,
living how you would.

This lent
let it just be about me and you
our relationship
what I offer to you
alone,
with no fanfares,
just my love
and worship of you

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 (GNT)

Teaching about Charity

“Make certain you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

Teaching about Prayer

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites! They love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

Teaching about Fasting

16 “And when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 17 When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, 18 so that others cannot know that you are fasting—only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

Riches in Heaven

19 “Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. 20 Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. 21 For your heart will always be where your riches are.

Good News Translation (GNT)Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

 

Thinking and Doing

By Tszho1997 (Own work)

I suppose there are all kinds of things that go off in our heads that we would never act on.  Dreams that we pursue, things we wish for and feelings that we would never express – some good, some bad.

But Jesus reminds us that if those thoughts are wrong, it is no better to just think them.  Thinking them is as bad as doing.  Our faith is as much about what we think as what we do.

 Matthew 5:21-37 (CEV)

Anger

21 You know that our ancestors were told, “Do not murder” and “A murderer must be brought to trial.” 22 But I promise you that if you are angry with someone, you will have to stand trial. If you call someone a fool, you will be taken to court. And if you say that someone is worthless, you will be in danger of the fires of hell.

23 So if you are about to place your gift on the altar and remember that someone is angry with you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. Make peace with that person, then come back and offer your gift to God.

25 Before you are dragged into court, make friends with the person who has accused you of doing wrong. If you don’t, you will be handed over to the judge and then to the officer who will put you in jail. 26 I promise you that you will not get out until you have paid the last cent you owe.

Marriage

27 You know the commandment which says, “Be faithful in marriage.” 28 But I tell you that if you look at another woman and want her, you are already unfaithful in your thoughts. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, poke it out and throw it away. It is better to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to end up in hell. 30 If your right hand causes you to sin, chop it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Divorce

31 You have been taught that a man who divorces his wife must write out divorce papers for her. 32 But I tell you not to divorce your wife unless she has committed some terrible sexual sin. If you divorce her, you will cause her to be unfaithful, just as any man who marries her is guilty of taking another man’s wife.

Promises

33 You know that our ancestors were told, “Don’t use the Lord’s name to make a promise unless you are going to keep it.” 34 But I tell you not to swear by anything when you make a promise! Heaven is God’s throne, so don’t swear by heaven. 35 The earth is God’s footstool, so don’t swear by the earth. Jerusalem is the city of the great king, so don’t swear by it. 36 Don’t swear by your own head. You cannot make one hair white or black. 37 When you make a promise, say only “Yes” or “No.” Anything else comes from the devil.

What harm can it be to think something?  It’s not hurting anyone.  Well it does.  It hurts us.  It messes with our lives and our relationships.  And it comes between us and God.  There will always be people who press our buttons, but how I respond is more likely to affect me than them.

And so Jesus wants us to do something about it.

I love the whole picture of getting to church with your offering, remembering someone you’re arguing with, so putting your offering down whilst you go away and sort it out.  I can imagine if we did this, there might be quite a pile of offerings in church waiting for people to come back to. But what smiles and lightening of hearts there would be as people came back having sorted things and presented their offerings to God.

It is only in sorting out our arguments that we can truly come to God in offering.  We are bringing ourselves, not held back by all those things we’re thinking.  We should be thinking about God, and focussing on him.

Paul in the Corinthians reading  admonished the Corinthians for squabbling and told them to get on with it.  Here Jesus re-enforces that.  He wants people to leave those things behind, they just get in the way, and to come to God unburdened and at peace with the world.  And he challenges not just wrong behaviour, but wrong thinking too.

Can I do that?  Can I sort through my feelings?  If the action would be wrong, then thinking about it is too. It’s not easy, but it will be worthwhile.  Can I put those thoughts down, sort out differences, and get on with being and doing what God asks of me?

In the immortal words of Noel Gallagher

Don’t look back in anger

Sort it!

Lord
I come to you.
There are things in my mind and heart
that should not be there.

Release me from them.
Help me to sort out my relationships
and offer myself to you;
not burdened by unnecessary
and unhelpful baggage,
but clear and free
working for you.

Words…

I have a love/hate relationship with words and language.  I’m really a mathematician.  Words, and structuring them into a sentence (as you’d know if you could see all the red squiggly lines as I type) are really not my thing.  And annoyingly one of the symptoms of my illness is that I often struggle to find the word I need (again if you knew how long I hovered over words trying to find the right one…).  But we need words if we are ever going to be understood by anyone else.

Language is important. A stray letter that changes meaning; a regional word that others don’t understand; where one word has several meanings, or different spellings with the same pronunciation.  A trip somewhere speaking a different language soon alerts you to the importance of being able to understand what others are saying.

Language is unimportant.  The niceties, the semantics – the quibbling over words and meanings.  Arguments over grammar and punctuation. A meaningless exercise as long as we can get the gist of what someone else is saying.

2 Timothy 2:8-15 (CEV)

Keep your mind on Jesus Christ! He was from the family of David and was raised from death, just as my good news says. And because of this message, I am locked up in jail and treated like a criminal. But God’s good news isn’t locked in jail, 10 and so I am willing to put up with anything. Then God’s special people will be saved. They will be given eternal glory because they belong to Christ Jesus. 11 Here is a true message:

“If we died with Christ,
    we will live with him.
12 If we don’t give up,
    we will rule with him.
If we deny
    that we know him,
he will deny
    that he knows us.
13 If we are not faithful,
    he will still be faithful.
Christ cannot deny
    who he is.”

An Approved Worker

14 Don’t let anyone forget these things. And with God as your witness, you must warn them not to argue about words. These arguments don’t help anyone. In fact, they ruin everyone who listens to them. 15 Do your best to win God’s approval as a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who teaches only the true message.

Paul tells Timothy,

you must warn them not to argue about words

Words don’t matter.  Arguing over words, meanings, the order of them is not important.  What matters is our actions.  Not what we say – we can all construct a beautiful sentence or argument if we need to – it doesn’t necessarily mean anything unless we back it up.  We might think it puts on a good impression, but do our words mean what they say?  How we behave shows what is really in our hearts.  Our work shows the truth of our lives.  We can no longer hide behind an artificial construct, or carefully built arguments.  How we get our hands dirty shows our true message.  That is what God is looking at.

It’s easy enough to talk the talk, do we walk the walk to go with it?

We need to keep our eyes and mind on Jesus.  To be living his way.

Lord
it is easy to big myself up,
put on a good show,
say all the right things…

But do I back that up
with how I behave?
The things that I do?
In my actions,
not just my words?

Forgive me Lord,
when I judge others by their words,
their accents,
their grammar.
May I remember that it is not words that count
– but actions;
in me as well!

May my words,
and my actions
say,
“I love you”