The reading for today is Romans 2: 17 – 29 (quoted here 21 – 29) – NIV
21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
Ah there she is again, that pesky hypocrite in the mirror. I try to get rid of her, but alas she returns. Do you have one of those at your house like me and the Apostle Paul? (Truthfully, I am not worthy to be mentioned in the same sentence as him!) Also, in Romans, we read of Paul’s struggles with his own human nature. “. . . For I have desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19).
Thankfully, I live to fight another day and try to change things that are hypocritical about myself. I have made up a mental exercise for myself and others who, like me, fall short of the standards they set for themselves. Let’s imagine ourselves completely enveloped in God’s love, warmed and calmed by His grace and mercy. It helps me to think of a scenario like this: I wake in the morning to the sounds of a 2-year-old child, ready to get out of bed. It’s snuggle time and we rock for a few minutes before it’s time to start the day’s routine. I know that kid will do something rotten during the day, but oh how I love that little human! This helps me imagine God’s love for me (depicted as the 2-year-old in the above word picture). Hope it works for you or that you can come up with your own scenario.
Next, surrounded by God’s love, and peaceful in His promise of forgiveness, let’s ask Him: “God, is there anything in my life that is inconsistent or bears bad witness for Your Son?” If God speaks, let’s remember that His Holy Spirit will provide the conviction and strength needed for the problem to get addressed. If there is no answer right away, perhaps God will show us in His time. And who knows? Maybe no news is good news! Anyway, let’s continue to let God’s love warm, heal, mold and strengthen us. Here’s a song (which is a prayer) to help us pray to change for the better: https://youtu.be/dFWJh55hOKk
I’ll include some of the lyrics for those who can’t access this song by Brian Doerksen
Purify my heart, Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart, Let me be as gold, pure gold
Refiner’s fire, My heart’s one desire,
Is to be holy Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be Holy,
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will.
Dear Heavenly Father, please grow us as Your people, so that Matthew 5:16 becomes a reality in our body of believers and in Christians everywhere. Through us, let Your light shine so brightly, that others will see and will then praise the Holy name of Jesus! Amen
Juli Hampton firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayer Concern: Those who have yet to find the peace in God’s proises.