Blessed… Oops, You Forgot!

“How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You give to God a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, but you forget about the more important matters of the Law: justice, peace, and faith. You ought to give a tenth but without forgetting about those more important matters. You blind guides! You filter out an ant but swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:23-24, Common English Bible).

In reading this lesson it would seem that mint, dill, and cumin was pretty important, something to be valued during Jesus’ day. After all, if you are going to tithe something (remember the word tithe means tenth), it would probably be something important to you.

For many of us, our time and/or our money is among the most important commodities in our possession. For some of us, our time is more valuable. For others, our money is more valuable. If we tithe either or both we are giving something that is important to us. It is something that makes a difference in my life. I remember when I when my boys were in athletics or band, Cindy and me, as parents were expected to work the concession stand at various school events either the sports program or the band would use as a fund raising project. I was always far more willing to give of my money than to give of my time.

But all that is beside Jesus’ point. He is saying to the Pharisees and legal experts, “You give your tithes (in their case produce) but you forget the thing that is really important. You forget peace, justice, and faith.” If you have no faith in your life, you can do a reverse tithe, give 90 percent and keep ten to live on and it doesn’t matter at all.

Yes, our talents and our treasures are important. Our time is important and we do need to good stewards of these and other resources God gives to us. At the same time, we also have to work for peace and justice while living out our faith.

The things that really matter us are the things we find important. If we find justice important, we will find time for it. If we find peace important, we will find ways to speak the truth about peace, in love. If faith is important we seek ways of living out our faith in the community and the world, including living it out by being part of a faithful worshipping community.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t even do as well as the Pharisees and legal experts. We don’t tithe and we don’t work for justice, peace, and faith.

All this really wasn’t new to the Jews of Jesus’ day and we shouldn’t think it new either. I am reminded of a verse of scripture from the Prophet Micah. “He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, Common English Bible).

I see parallels in Micah’s words and Jesus’ words. To do justice, well that one is pretty obvious.  Embrace faithful love, if we are doing that peace will automatically be a byproduct. And to walk humbly with your God? Well, that is being faithful.

No, it wasn’t then and it isn’t now something new to learn. We should know already. The real question for us is, will we work for justice, peace, and faith?

How do you work for justice, peace, and faith?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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