Monday, August 15, 2016

A Red Letter Day

According to the dictionary, a red letter day is "a day that is pleasantly noteworthy or memorable.” But maybe there is a more important meaning to red letters than that. We’ll be looking at the words of Jesus which of course are found in many Bibles in red letters. We know that all Scripture is God-breathed but those words that appear in red letters certainly do seem to carry just a little bit more weight.

I have been reading the Book of Matthew and came to the famous Sermon on the Mount in beginning in chapter 5 .  There,  Jesus is expanding on what the listeners had traditionally been taught as “the Law”. He says that He did not come to abolish the Law but rather to fulfill it.  And yet, He holds out an even higher standard to His listeners than what was already unattainable. Whether it is murder versus anger, adultery versus lust, or loving friends versus enemies, there are many teachings He presents that are hard to come to grips with. But if it is in red letters then it comes from the highest authority and is therefore non-negotiable,  and as a follower of Christ it must be for me.

Things to think about:

  • There are six variations on the Law Jesus identifies:
    • Murder, Adultery, Divorce, Oaths, Eye for Eye, Loving Enemies
    • let’s read each one
  • Which of the six areas of contrast is most challenging for you intellectually, spiritually, or practically?
    • why did you pick that one?
  • The Pharisees were the “ruling party” at the time and they placed a great emphasis on the appearance of keeping the law
  • What is the distinction Jesus is making with topics like murder/anger, adultery/lust, etc.?
    • why does our attitude matter to Him and not just our actions?
  • Traps to avoid - Relativism, Religiosity, Rationalization
    • Relativism would be comparing our attitudes and actions to those outside of the church - “well, this is way better than what unbelievers are doing."
    • Religiosity would be comparing our attitudes and actions to those within the church - “well, I’m keeping the letter of the law (sort of)” or “this will look good to those who know what I’m supposed to be doing."
    • Rationalization would be comparing our attitudes and actions to ourselves - “well, it may not be perfect but it’s better than what I was doing.” or “God knows how I am and He knows I just can’t help it.”
      • are one or more of these excuses that might ring a little too true??
  • God has given us several tools to become the men He would have us be:
    • His Word to teach us
    • His Son to show us
    • His Spirit to help us
    • His Church to encourage us
  • May today be a red letter day for each of us as we take to heart the words Jesus has spoken so that we can continue to grow in His likeness 

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