I went to bed with a heavy heart. I knew I had to once again say that prayer of forgiveness. You see, I had messed up again. I was unkind, impatient, swore, even said nothing when I was given too much change back at the store. I once again had that inter-yuck feeling from not performing as I had promised God I would in my prayer the night before. So here I go again, asking for forgiveness and promising to somehow do a better job with that daunting list of “rules” for may Christian life.
Do you feel as though you are on a Ferris wheel of messing up, asking for forgiveness, promising to do better, only to find yourself back at the same place 24-hours later. Sometimes I just give up. This is impossible so why try. Life as a Christian is supposed to be joyful, so why do I constantly feel this inner-sickness gnawing at heart.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) Jesus teaches that He assumes our sins and God imputes our sins on Jesus. So what does this mean? Jesus takes responsibility of all the bad things we do and so our sins are not seen as something to be judged. This frees us up to focus on loving. Loving our God and others.
So you might say, if my sins are imputed (points for using the new vocabulary word) on Jesus, then we can do whatever we want with no worries, right? Not so! Jesus takes the responsibility for our sins so we can focus on loving, loving Him and loving others. Remember what it was like to be a child. We wanted our parents’ approval so bad; we wanted to catch them bragging about us to other adults. Was this accomplished by acting like we were asleep when mom came to check on us at bedtime only to get up after she left the room? Did we sneak an extra cookie after we were told we could only have one? As we got older, did we lie to our parents about going to a church event when we were really attending the concert they did not approve of? No, most of the time we did what they asked because we wanted the relationship to grow.
So if we are a Christian, we should be striving to let Jesus know how much we love Him by doing things we know please him, not because we have to, but because we want the relationship to grow.
By Becky Watkins
What does it mean to be the light or to be salt? I am not talking about a light bulb or the white crystals in the shaker on your table. What did Jesus mean in the sermon on the mount when he said we are to be salt and the light? This was the question from church Sunday. I pondered this. I am not a prestigious person in the church, I have not given great sums of money to ministry in fact, I have a time or two been the recipient of benevolence. So can I be salt or light?
Yes! It may be the smile I give someone in passing that needed the encouragement. It may be the compliment I gave to stranger who was down on herself. It may be the door I opened for the lonely person who was thrilled have someone notice her. It may be the recovering addict I went to coffee with not caring what others thought. Or is it the child that I bent down to notice in the store. Maybe it was the stranger I met and had a conversation with who was so desperate for someone to listen. Or the neighbor whose child I babysat when they were in a pinch. They are all over. People with needs, hungry for someone to notice them, listen to them, affirm them. So often I respond without giving a thought. Oh, I long to have money to give gifts and random monetary blessings, but maybe my salt and my light comes in the form of compassion and giving to others in a different way. Whose to say what is important. What did Jesus give? His interactions with people most often involved teaching, time spent, or healing. Should I not do as Jesus did?
I am salt. I am light.
Matthew 6:1-4 warns us against doing things for show. When these acts are done purposefully and talked about, you are not rewarded. So many people do “good acts” because they want to be a good Christian. They want others in the church to see that they are a good Christian. We are actually warned against this. Don’t get me wrong, if you are not used to being generous or serving other people, you may have to think about it and maybe even have an accountability partner for a while, but eventually, you should do it automatically. When God is living in you and through you, you will be attuned to other people so much that you will see their needs and spontaneously act before you look around to see who will notice or do it through the church so you “get credit for it.” There is nothing wrong with volunteering at the church or even being employed by the church, but we should be spontaneously participating in benevolent acts if Christ is real in our lives.