Amos 5:4-17; Luke 18:9-15; Hebrews 12
Scriptures taken from the Presbyterian Church Daily Lectionary
It is time to quiet myself before Lord God Almighty, and for me that means no movies or television during the evening hours from my son’s bedtime to my bedtime until Easter.
Confession and repentance is an important part of Lent. The first scripture, from Amos 5: 4-17, is a harsh warning of impending judgment on Israel for how they have treated their poor and needy. Israel is no different than me. We both like the illusion that our religious rituals and wealth will make us secure. Amos is trying to make the Israelites aware of their sin so that they would repent. The only way to repent is to “seek the Lord.” Awareness of sin should motivate me to swift repentance. A warning of impending judgment should send me down on my knees begging for mercy.
Jesus is making a point about pride in Luke 18: 9-14. When I read this the first few times, of course I thought of myself as the tax collector because I know that’s the favored character. It’s because I see myself as the tax collector that I know I must confess my pride. It’s difficult to admit that I’m usually the Pharisee trying to shout out how “holy” I am. In today’s context it might look something like this. I’m glad I’m not “that woman with six tattoos, a cigarette in her mouth with no college education, and four kids under age 10.” I’m not “that woman who suffers from a heroine or alcohol addiction.” I need to be on my knees begging for mercy because I failed to show God’s love to “that woman” when I had the chance.
I learn about God’s discipline in Hebrews 12. Discipline can be confused with judgment. Discipline comes from a loving Father who wants to correct his children’s inappropriate behavior. The purpose of discipline is to make me aware of my mistakes so that I may make better choices next time. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith . . .” v 2 means to stay focused on Jesus because my ultimate goal is to become more like him, and when I miss the mark, God will discipline me.
Seek the Lord. Beg God for mercy. Fix your eyes on Jesus.
Heavenly Father, I have ignored other’s needs while presenting you with a litany of excuses as to why I can’t be your hands and feet. I often think of myself as somehow “better” or “worse” than others. Help me to see others not through feelings of inferiority or superiority, but help me to see them the way you do. Help me to accept your discipline in my life and help me to put into practice what you’re teaching me. Amen.