Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the command of our God,
you people of Gomorrah.
‘Wash, make yourselves clean.
Take your wrong-doing out of my sight.
Cease to do evil.
Learn to do good,
search for justice,
help the oppressed,
be just to the orphan,
plead for the widow.
‘Come now, let us talk this over,
says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
‘If you are willing to obey,
you shall eat the good things of the earth.
But if you persist in rebellion,
the sword shall eat you instead.’
Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.
‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’
“… do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do…”
As a father to 2 children, I learnt very early on that children are keen observers of your behavior. They will first listen to what you have to say, but very quickly, they will pick up any difference between what you say and what you actually do.
When both my children were very young, we set strict rules that all forms of eating were to be done in the dining room, including the consumption of potato chips, drinks and other forms of titbits. This went well for a period of time, until the time we forgot and my wife and I opened a pack of chips to go along with the movie we were watching in our bedroom.
In the midst of watching the movie, our children walked into the room and stood still as they looked at us, wide-eyed…. When we finally heard the dreaded words: “Dad and Mum.. I thought you said that we were ALL not supposed to eat in our rooms?”
Oops. Needless to say, chip-eating in the bedroom became common place in our household.
In essence, this is what human nature is all about. We are always (whether consciously or unconsciouly) reconciling what people say and what they do, and are quick to pounce on any dissonance between the two. If someone in authority breaks the rules, who are they to tell us to follow the same rules? This is what is commonly seen in society, in the workplace and in the political arena.
In today’s gospel reading, our Lord Jesus talks about that. Rather than be outward-looking, He exhorts us to look within; to be guided by our faith and by our conscience. He asks us to always strive to do the right thing, and not be led to do wrong just because others choose to do the wrong thing. Imagine what our world would have been like had Adam chosen not to do as Eve did.
Let us pray that we will always be led by the Spirit to do what is right in God’s eyes.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer – Father God, we pray that you may strengthen us through the Holy Spirit and that you will always be our compass, leading our thoughts and works. We pray that in our weakness, we may always repent and turn to you.
Thanksgiving – Thank you Father, for sending your son Jesus to not just die for us, but also show us how to live.