Proverbs 3:27-30

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.

Do not plan harm against your neighbor who lives trustingly beside you.

Do not quarrel with anyone without cause, when no harm has been done to you.  Proverbs 3:27-30

 

I can remember a time in my life when the idea of Christianity basically boiled down to a long laundry list of stuff that I wasn’t supposed to do.  The only sense of “Trinity” connected to Christianity was “Thou Shalt Not.”

 

The trouble was…lots of that stuff was fun.  I didn’t like the idea of God or anyone else telling me what I wasn’t supposed to do.  The Ten Commandments were, for me at least, ten suggestions or ten pretty good ideas.

 

Obviously I came around to a new way of thinking.  And then one day I found myself sitting in a class at the seminary and listening to Jim Nestigen lead us through Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.  He pointed out to us how Luther saw both a “no” and a “yes” in each commandment.  It wasn’t simply that God was telling us what not to do, God was also opening us to the new world that would come about when we acted on the positive impulses of the law.

 

Not just “Thou shalt not kill” but also “we are to fear and love God so that we do not hurt our neighbor in any way, but help him in all his physical needs.”  And a whole new world opened up for me.

 

The old Christian faith of rules and regulations died and a new vision of faith as a means of preserving, protecting, and celebrating the giftedness of life rose up out of the ashes.  I saw then with new eyes how the rules and regulations had their place, not as ends in themselves but as means to an end, as participating in the very ends to which they would lead and guide us.

 

So it is that I hear these words from Proverbs this morning and I am reminded of how simple – and hard – it is to walk by faith.  I’ll have opportunity today to do good for someone else and I’ll be free to do it.  I’ll be given a chance to love my neighbor.  It will happen today and I’ll be available today to do it.  There are people in my life who trust me and today I will prove myself worthy of their trust by acting in a trustworthy manner. 

 

Things will happen today that will tempt me to anger and resentment – it is going to happen because it does every day – but I will recall these verses.  I will see others in my life through the eyes of faith.  I will see others as just as limited and self absorbed and scared as I am.  And my resentment will give way to compassion, my anger will be replaced by curiosity and willingness to seek to understand.

 

All of this will happen today.  Because all of this happens everyday.   And today I will see it for what it is because the Christian faith is not only real for me today but it finally allows me to see reality for what it is.  God is at work in, around, and through me – and through you – and through all of those around us – today and every day.

 

Let us pray:  Open the eyes of our hearts, O Lord, that we might see you at work in each moment of our lives.  Give us opportunity today to let your love become enfleshed anew through us again today in how we treat and respond to our neighbors.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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One Response to “Proverbs 3:27-30”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    It is often difficult to walk the walk of faith and talk the talk of faith. I so often fail, but I pray that I can overcome the roadblocks. Instead of confronting anger with anger, quarrelsomeness with more arguing, and fear with trepidation, let me seize these as opportunities to be kind, to “do unto others as I would have them do unto me”.

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