The reason why those who are in Christ Jesus are not condemned is that the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. God has done what the Law, because of our unspiritual nature, was unable to do. God dealt with sin by sending his own Son in a body as physical as any sinful body, and in that body God condemned sin. He did this in order that the Law’s just demands might be satisfied in us, who behave not as our unspiritual nature but as the spirit dictates.
The unspiritual are interested only in what is unspiritual, but the spiritual are interested in spiritual things. It is death to limit oneself to what is unspiritual; life and peace can only come with concern for the spiritual. That is because to limit oneself to what is unspiritual is to be at enmity with God: such a limitation never could and never does submit to God’s law. People who are interested only in unspiritual things can never be pleasing to God. Your interests, however, are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ you would not belong to him. Though your body may be dead it is because of sin, but if Christ is in you then your spirit is life itself because you have been justified; and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.
Some people arrived and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them, ‘Do you suppose these Galileans who suffered like that were greater sinners than any other Galileans? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell and killed them? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’
He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, “Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”’
“Sir” the man replied, “Leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it…”
Recently, a friend of mine spoke to me about an area of my life that needed changing. It wasn’t easy initially, to swallow the fact that I needed changing. But I knew that what he said was true and I had to look into certain areas of my life if I wanted to manage it better. Having that friend speak to me, was like a reminder of what the man in the parable said to the owner of the vineyard. I felt God reminding me that there was an area of my life that I needed to deal with.
It’s not easy to accept the fact sometimes that we are flawed and imperfect. I’m still learning to grapple with that. I guess I knew all along that it was an area in my life which needed changing, but I tried to comfort myself by saying that I’m getting by with life as it is, weaknesses and all. However, the truth is I’m embarrassed to admit that I need changing and so, it becomes a reason I give myself not to step out of my comfort zone. Unfortunately, if my attitude persists, I think I might just end up becoming like the barren fig tree in the parable.
Today’s readings are a wake up call to me, not to run away from my weaknesses. Even though I’m embarrassed to admit it, I’m asked by God to put aside my pride and acknowledge that my life needs changing. Although he doesn’t demand perfection, he does require me to grow. Are there any areas in your life too that you feel God prompting you to grow? It may be difficult initially to accept and acknowledge, but when we do, we can rest assured that God does not leave us in our areas of lack.
Like the owner in the parable, God has assigned us an advocate for our growth. I’m struck by how the man in the parable pleads with the owner for more time to let the fig tree grow. I’m struck even more by how the man in the parable is committed to help the fig tree grow – by digging around and fertilising it. The man, whom Jesus speaks of, is none other than himself. When we feel God prompting us to change, that’s when he’s digging the soil of our hearts. When we’re open to accept, that’s when God can fertilise us by giving us the grace and strength that we need to change.
I need to learn to surrender my weaknesses to Jesus and remember that He is my righteousness. Despite my lack and fallibility, I need to remember that Jesus can help me grow. Repentance ends with a change in our actions – but it begins first with a transformation in our hearts and minds. Only Jesus can transform us.
Beloved, let’s put aside our pride and come to Jesus. We are loved, regardless of our imperfections, but it is God’s desire for us to live our lives fully, free from any hidden bondages. Rather than seeing our weaknesses as a burden we need to bear, let us see it as a door opened for God’s blessings and supply, through which we can come to rely more on Christ and realise His magnificent work in our lives.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: Lord, break down the soil of our stubborness in our hearts to acknowledge and accept our weaknesses so that we may be transformed in our lives. Whenever we’re frustrated and weary, comfort us with your spirit and supply us with grace to embark on this journey of change again.
Thanksgiving: We thank you for your unconditional acceptance of us and continual guidance.
Sun, 23 Oct – Exodus 22:20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40; Thirteeth Sunday of Ordinary Time