Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’” Matthew 7:21-23

As we now approach the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount we might look back and notice again how many times Jesus has taught us that words matter. Jesus repeatedly reminds us how we commonly view morality and right behaviors toward others – You have heard it said …– and then Jesus intensifies and internalizes and amplifies his expectations – but I say to you…

Jesus reaches past the letter of the law to the spirit of the law. In doing this, we are able to see that cultivating and caring for relationships is the whole point, and we are driven to a place of humility when we realize how easily and often we fall short.

Words matter. Actions matter. We are called to love in both word and deed.

Whenever I read the words “kingdom of heaven” I try and remember that, at its heart, what Jesus is describing is a relationship, not a place. The kingdom of heaven is a relationship where God is the king and we are the “dom.” God is the Ruler, we are the ruled. While we could look at this as a hierarchy (as humans always do), with God “up there” while we are “down here”, I think that misses the point. It is much more helpful to see it as a partnership, as a team, wherein we accept the roles that God has given us. God holds the authority because God is the author of life. God gives us all we need so that we can do all that we need do.

God’s “will” defines how God would have us play the game. God has defined the boundaries and the rules of the game. God is the referee, the umpire, the judge. We are the players, free to play within the rules, bound to accept the consequences of taking the game into our own hands and doing our own thing despite what God wills.

Jesus seeks integrity between our words and our deeds. He speaks harshly toward empty words not backed up by loving actions, and equally harshly toward good deeds done for self-serving reasons with unloving results. How could we possibly read his words without feeling our stomachs fall, questioning whether or not we might be among those who think we’re on the right track only to discover that we’ve missed the boat?

Listening closely to what Jesus teaches us moves us beyond haughtiness to humility, beyond independence to interdependence, beyond self-sufficiency to mutuality, beyond legalism to love.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, we do not want to be counted among those who give you lip service even as we mistreat or manipulate others in self-serving ways. We want to play well but we can’t do that on our own, without your help and your guidance. Lead us, use us, one day at a time, one moment at a time, that our thoughts, words, and actions come from a place of love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Matthew 7:21-23”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    Amen to your simple and humble prayer Rv Kerry.

    “Lead us, use us, one day at a time, one moment at a time, that our thoughts, words, and actions come from a place of love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” Amen – Amen

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