Tag Archives: superiority

Two Pairs of Pants

Story of the Day for Friday June 17, 2011

Two Pairs of Pants

 

                 Be careful that you don’t practice your righteousness before people to be seen by them.  For if you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  

                                                                                  Matthew 6:1

 

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, has just finished saying we should let our light shine so that people “will SEE our good deeds” and praise the Father in heaven.  Now he says we must not practice our righteousness before people to be SEEN by them.

When you read both these verses side-by-side they seem to contradict each other, don’t they?   Well, not to take away the suspense or anything, but Jesus is not contradicting himself.

 

When Jesus says we should not do our righteous acts before others to be seen by them, he is talking about showing off.  Don’t be a religious show-off.

The Pharisees loved to be admired for their righteousness.  But it’s no fun being superior to other people if nobody notices.  So, they took pains to call attention to their incredible holiness.  When they gave to the needy, they announced their generosity withy trumpets.  When they prayed they just happened to be reciting their daily prayers on busy street corners.  When they fasted, they would screw up their faces funny so people could see they were fasting.  Not only that, but the early Christians talk about the Pharisees fasting twice a week: on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  In ancient Palestine, “market day” was – do you want to guess? – Tuesday and Thursday.

Hypocrites are not religious to serve God.  They are really serving themselves.  That is why Jesus is telling us that do the right things for the wrong reason doesn’t count.

But when Jesus tells us to let our light shine so that people will see our good deeds, the focus is not on us, but letting people see the amazing things God does in people.

 

Once I had to attend a religious meeting, a suit coat and tie kind of meeting.  I drove down to the area the night before.  Since my old car needed frequent care under the hood, I drove in grubby, oily jeans.

It wasn’t until the next morning as I put on my suit and tie that I realized my suit pants did not accompany me on the trip.  So, I raced through town looking for a clothing store.  I grabbed some nice slacks off the rack, paid for them, ran to my car, and put them on in the front seat. I strolled (out of breath) into the meeting looking cool and casual, a fine specimen of formal attire.

Not until after lunch did a brave soul approach me and asked if I realized there were price tags and stickers hanging from my butt.

Those two pairs of pants have become a metaphor of the extremes I need to avoid in life.  I don’t want to be grubby with sin and leave oil stains everywhere I sit.  On the other hand, I don’t want to be proud of how new and clean my pants are, and strut around with the tags on.

When you let your light shine, make sure people are looking to the source.

                                           (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Even A Bug Can Teach

Story of the Day for Thursday June 2, 2011

Even A Bug Can Teach

 

                 When pride comes, disgrace with follow. With humility comes wisdom.

                                                                      Proverbs 11:2

 

 

The 19th century was the golden age of British conquest. The sun never set on the British Empire, and the cultured English bathed in their glory.

Having conquered and colonized vast uncivilized cultures of the world, in the spring of 1845, they set out to conquer Nature.

Sir John Franklin led the best-funded expedition in history to find the fabled Northwest Passage to the Orient. Two 350-ton vessels were equipped with steel reinforced hulls, a 1000 book library, and heated cabins.

Confident of their invincibility, they defied the arctic seas . . . and lost.  The massive ice flows slammed into their ships and wedged them fast.  For two years they waited for the ice to release its grip, but the ice refused to budge, and all of Franklin’s men perished.

 

Oddly enough, Franklin’s men met the native Inuit of the area. A decade later, Francis Hall spent time with the Inuit, who told him of their encounters with Franklin’s crew. The Inuit gave seal to the starving men, but the British sailors never asked for help in survival. Though the Inuit could travel long distances on their dog sleds, they never asked for help in sending out a rescue party.

The Victorians of this age were intent upon asserting their superiority over all other cultures. They saw the arctic natives as ignorant savages, and refused to swallow their dignity by begging them for assistance.

 

Years later, twenty-eight-year old Roald Amundsen, slipped out of the harbor at Oslo with six others in a small, second-hand fishing boat. They sailed until the arctic winter set in and found themselves in the same vicinity as Franklin’s stranded expedition.

But Amundsen sought out the Inuit. He befriended them and learned their secrets of survival in the arctic. They taught him how to hunt seals and build igloos. He was amazed to find their reindeer clothing far better than his own. He lived on their diet.

When he borrowed their sled dogs for an exploratory trip, he bogged down and had to dump half his supplies to make it back to the Inuit village. They were amused, but showed him how to reduce the friction of the sled runners.

 

When the spring ice thawed and allowed the Norwegians to continue their journey, Amundsen dismayed the crew by refusing to sail. He claimed they still hadn’t learned enough from the Inuit in how to survive in the Arctic.

Amundsen would not only sail on to discover the Northwest Passage, but would later outrace the British to plant the first flag on the South Pole.

 

God tells us in the Bible to observe the behavior of ants and learn from them. Even a bug can teach us spiritual truth, but only the humble have the ears to listen.

                                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)