July 31 / Proverbs 31 / Mark 3

withered hand2

Proverbs 31:8-9

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
    ensure justice for those being crushed.
 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
    and see that they get justice.

Do you speak up when others are put down? Or do you just stand there and listen in sinful silence as the blast of gossip and slander hits you in the face? God says, “Open your mouth.” With every unkind word that goes unconfronted, a reputation dies.

So much is at stake in our words. They matter not just to us but even more, far more, to God. We are always speaking before the face of God.

-Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.

Mark 3:1-6

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.”  Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!  At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.

Jesus always kept the big picture in mind. He was always thinking of “the point of it all.” And His actions always were in line with the point of it all since He was ceaselessly focused on it.

The main thing is to keep the Main Thing the main thing.

I see the point of it all for Jesus as being and staying connected to His heavenly Father in the manner of the two greatest commandments as given by Him–Loving God and loving others.

The point was not keeping all the rules, because the rules were only given as guidelines for loving God and all people. They all point back to healthy relationship with God and others. The point of bowling is not to keep your ball from going in the gutter, it is to knock the pins down. These are two very different focuses.

If your rules, religion, or tradition keep you from justice, mercy, or kindness, then your rules, religion, and tradition are worthless. Everything we do should take us in the direction of loving God and others more and more, to better relationships, to shalom.

I believe love and relationship transcend the letter of the law. This is what I get from studying Jesus. The “weightier matters” are justice, mercy, and kindness.

At the end of the day, we ascribe value to the person and seek their flourishing.

I was discussing with a friend the other nite the story of a seminary class on this very thing where the final exam was a staged person in great need on the pathway to the class for the final exam. If the student bypassed helping the person in need in order to be on time to class for the exam, they failed because the person in need and their response to him or her WAS the exam!

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