Friday, November 15, 2013

2013 New Testament Challenge – Day 1 (Matthew 1-7)

Every year I participate in a special effort called the New Testament Challenge sponsored by a priest of the Orthodox Church in America. He encourages Christians to spend the Christmas Fast, also known as Advent) reading the entire New Testament as a preparation for Christmas. Each year I have done this, it has been blessing to me and I pray this year will be no different. As part of the New Testament Challenge, I endeavor to blog a bit about the reading for that particular day. I may miss a few, but I pray for those who follow this blog (NOW ALSO ON FACEBOOK) it will be a blessing.


Every time I open the Holy Scriptures, they speak to me in a unique way. I’m no longer surprised, since it happens EVERY time, but nonetheless, it is always a blessing. Today was no different. When I came upon the verses on judging others, I was reminded of my short comings…and they are many.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” Matthew 7.1-5

Like everyone, I struggle with judging other people. I think I’m pretty good and discerning the difference between judging sin, maybe not so much in myself, and righteousness. I think I’m pretty good at that. What I really struggle with, and what this morning’s reading reminded me of, is that I TOO often forget that while I am called by our Lord as one of His Priests, and that often includes the task of calling others to a higher living, I cannot forget that everyone has their own challenges in life.

Since I spend my entire day, every day, focused on (in theory) the spiritual life, I tend to forget that so many others are just trying to live a good life and take care of their families. I say in theory, because when I find myself trying to drag others down the God-road, often kicking and screaming, it is just those moments I forget that I ALSO waste time on trivial things rather than God. If I can’t do it all the time, how can I expect others to focus on God 24/7?

At these moments of “gentle reminders” by God (ie a 2x4 to the forehead) it becomes more clear when the Lord says, “First remove the plank form your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Today I see a bit more clearly that those specks are many times good people just trying to live good lives and take care of their families. I can’t imagine God would fault them for that!

I wonder what tomorrow’s reading will bring….

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