Treasuring God’s Gifts
Means We Think of Others as Gifts,
† In Jesus Name †
As we realize the mercy, peace and love of God our Father, that crafts the life we have in Christ, may we rejoice in the gifts that life helps us realize are ours!
Commands, or sub-clauses?
I said last week that I am coming to see the 10 Commandments, what is known as the Decalogue, more and more as the Old Testament’s Beatitudes. The Blessed are they whose lives are described in the words that many of us have memorized.
In a way, it is a matter of hearing, even as it is with the Beatittudes. We hear them as commands, as a list of characteristics we must developed in ourselves. What English instructors and Greek professors call “imperatives”
If they were, I think we are in more trouble than we think we are, for how many of us can keep these commandments 24/7/365-366? If we see these as simple commands – do this or you are going to be zapped, we are in deep trouble.
I hate to sound like an English teacher, but if these are instead sub-clauses (and they are), it is based on the original statement.
I am the Lord your God, who rescued you….. and therefore…
This is how you live.
This is the masterpiece, this is ….His masterpiece. The one we read together earlier.
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
The problem of false witness/gossip
These words, these phrases, that we know so well, take on deeper meaning when we realize they describe how we look as God’s masterpiece, and that sinnings is simply robbing ourselves and God of this masterpiece, smearing the masterpiece, like someone throwing a bucket of pain over a priceless painting, or graffiting a incredible statue. It mars the image, it obscures the masterpiece that is there for all to see, to testifying of God’s wisdom, His glory, His creative power in our lives.
This week, the phrase we read, from Deuteronomy concerns bearing false witness, testify, talking about someone in a way that wrecks their reputation. It’s not just about telling lies about them, but as Luther taught,
“we will not deceive by lying, betraying, slandering or ruining our neighbor’s reputation, but will defend him, say good things about him, and see the best side of everything he does. Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.
In the Large cathecism, Luther even reveals that it is not just spreading lies about them, but it can be spreading the truth, if our reason is false – that is, if we spread the truth, because we think it will damage their reputation.
Why? Where is God’s wisdom in this?
If we begin, even about a person we truly detest, to think bad about them, to gossip about, to assume that what they do is with devious or evil intent, that begins to affect our own character. It spreads an grows, like an unchecked infection, throughout our lives.
It wrecks our relationships with others, it puts us on the defensive, it robs us of compassion, and steals us of the ability to love them, as Christ loved us.
That spreads and spreads, and it even affects how people look at us, as they primarily hear us comment negatively about others.
We are all guilty of it, whether we want to admit it or not. We all have those we have trouble understanding, those we don’t want to see the best side of, to think of what they do in the best way. Some are our enemies, some are those who lead, and some are just people whose actions affect our lives. They are in far off places like Russia, or Washington D.C. or St. Louis, they might be our co-workers, or family, or they are might be here, in this very room.
Blessed are they, who do not testify falsely, whether in word or intent about others.
The challenge of Trusting God’s craftsmanship
Last we talked about the reason one could be content, rather than jealous had nothing to do with who had more than us, our even our unmet expectations. Rather, whether we talked about it being a matter of trusting God, about realizing that He in love, provides what we need.
The issues about gossip, slander, and trying to damage the reputation of others is the same issue.
If we trust that God is in charge, if we have faith in His Lordship, and that He will deliver us from evil, we must believe He desires to rescue them from evil as well. That He desires to make their life a masterpiece along with ours. We see them, not as a drain on society, but someone who either knows God’s love, or needs to know it. We hear Joseph’s words,
“What you meant for evil, God used for good,” and we know it is about all of us. That all of us are forgiven, blessed, cleansed, and our actions, no matter what they were, or what our intent was, God will use for good, for those whom He loves, for He has called them by name.
How could we testify about their actions or intent harmfully, if we trust God will make it good? As we look at them, and see them at the foot of the cross, the blood washing away their sin, as we realize our need to be there as well,
He desires to make our life a masterpiece, and occasionally, we can glimpse that He is doing this very thing. We trust Him at His promise, the promise that we see here, in baptism, the promise we see here, at the altar….
We know He desires that for every one, and it is the same trust, the same faith we have in God, that leads us to treasure all those He has died to save…and as we realize His love for them… the love that grants repentance, the mercy that transforms, the more we know God will use them… and the more we find ourselves thinking of them in the best possible way – as God’s gifts
As we see them that way – as we love them as we love ourselves… we find ourselves in living in Christ, is peace.
Let us pray…..