Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 97; 145, Jeremiah 32:1-15, Colossians 3:18-4:18, Luke 7:36-50
Paul was convinced that Christ’s return was a short-term proposition. As far as he was concerned, that was all the social upheaval that would be needed. In his letters to the Colossians and the Galatians, he declared that in Christ there was no distinction made between Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free. Long-term political and social reform simply wasn’t part of the equation. So when he advises wives to be subject to their husbands and slaves to obey their masters, he isn’t so much advocating for the social ills of sexism and human trafficking (though there’s no plausible argument he was against them either) as he is commenting on the world as it is but won’t be much longer.
Importantly, he also counsels masters to be just and fair, husbands not to be harsh, and fathers not to provoke their children. No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in – fair or unfair, powerful or powerless – we should conduct ourselves in a manner that shows our trust and dignity lie in Christ. The work we do; the words we choose; the attitudes we display; no matter our station in life all of these can be conformed to the image of Christ. We won’t do it perfectly, but perfection is not the expectation.
Ironically, one of the best ways to do better is to remember when we have done worse. We don’t do this to feel guilty, but to feel gratitude. Luke tells the tale of a sinful woman who came to Jesus while he visited and dined with a Pharisee. She washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. When the Pharisee tried to warn Jesus what kind of woman she was, Jesus pointed out she had shown him many more kindnesses than the Pharisee had: “Her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
Let’s remember what we have been forgiven. Every little detail. Then let’s return that gratitude and love by sharing it with all we meet.
Comfort: You are forgiven much.
Challenge: You are called to forgive.
Prayer: Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Amen.
Discussion: How do you typically show gratitude?
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