Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 1 February 2022:
Genesis 30:1 – When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister.
Envy is a very powerful emotion that can cause a person to do terrible things to others as the Bible warns from beginning to end. In envy, Cain killed Abel, and envy was behind the crucifixion of Jesus – “For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.” (Mark 15:10) Envy is unloving (1 Corinthians 13:4), hateful and foolish (Titus 3:3), and the product of a “debased mind” (Romans 1:28). Many people who appear very successful and even religious are merely driven by envy, which only leads to self-destruction –
- Ecclesiastes 4:4 — Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
- Philippians 1:15 — Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.
Envy is a form of hate that is outwardly directed at others but inwardly is a deep resentment of God because God gave someone something that you think you deserve instead. Envy comes from deep within your heart. The Bible says, above all else, guard your heart. You cannot address what you are not willing to be honest about. Search your heart diligently for any envy. As God said to Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen 4:7)
The envy between Rachel and Leah and between Jacob and Laban caused immeasurable and needless pain and suffering as everyone sought to take from each other what only God could give. As James says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:1-3) Don’t add sorrows to the blessings God has planned for you by struggling to get things your own way.
Matthew 22:1-9 – The servants (Christians) are called to invite people to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, all are invited. However, many will not only ignore God’s messengers (Christians) but will even persecute them.
Matthew 22:11-14 — “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment…. ‘cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Unless you are “clothed” in Jesus Christ, you are not worthy to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. (See Romans 13:14 and Galatians 3:27)
Matthew 22:16 — “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.”
True teaching is the unadulterated word of God, no person should add to it or take away from it. It doesn’t matter what people think about God’s word, only what God’s word says.
Matthew 22:21 — “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Hoping to trap Jesus, the Pharisees ask him, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Jesus asks for the coin used to pay the tax, which for pious Jews should be a special copper coin minted with Rome’s approval, not the silver denarius, which is seen as idolatrous because it depicts the Caesar’s image and his title divus et pontifex maximus, Latin for “divine and high priest.” Jesus’ enemies are revealed as hypocrites when they produce the denarius (22:18–21). Those who hate idolatrous coinage are carrying unclean money themselves. Jesus turns them away with the following: “Jesus said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” Most commentaries on this interaction will take from it the point that Christians should respect and obey governmental authority, which is true. However, the more powerful point Jesus is making is the second half of his statement, “[give] to God the things that are God’s.” What things are Gods? EVERYTHING! What Caesar demands is nothing compared to what God demands. What power would worldly governments have over a people fully surrendered to God? What value is Caesar’s money if God’s people put no value in it? Caesar’s claim on taxes was such a meaningless thing compared to what God was demanding from the people – their lives, wholehearted devotion, unconditional love. And what power do worldly governments have over God’s people anyway? None but what God gives them. Why fear men rather than fear God? If God’s people would but follow God, evil political powers would be powerless.
Matthew 22:29 — “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”
Followers of Christ must know both God’s word and God Himself. Many unbelieving Bible scholars lack any true understanding, and many believers hinder their relationship to God due to a lack of understanding of God’s word.
Matthew 22:31, 32 – “And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”
Without study aids, Jesus knew God’s word so well that He won an unanticipated argument by pointing out the tense of a verb from an Old Testament verse.
Matthew 22:34-40 – “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus summarized the Old Testament in two sentences that pointed to affections (love) rather than regulations. Obedience that is motivated by fear, pride, or even duty (anything other than love) is ultimately disobedience because the first command is love. If you don’t start there, you are already wrong.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 1 Feb 22: Examine your love: Set a timer today, and every hour stop and review your attitudes and actions for that hour ask yourself, “Why did I do what I did? What was my motivation?” Were you motived by fear, pride, duty, a sense of obligation, or were you motivated by genuine, selfless love? Was Jesus Christ your focus or something else? Briefly journal your answers. Pray that God will reveal to you where you are lacking in love. (Matthew 22:32-40)