Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
St. Stephen’s DayBible portion: Luke 12:1-12
Verse for reflection:
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:14–16 ESV)
At this juncture of Luke’s Gospel, the crowds and followers that Jesus attracted during his early years of ministry were doubtful of Jesus and were starting to feel judgment for following His teachings. The crowds were being lured by the Pharisees and Sadducees and began to be enticed by their “false religion.” This led to a shift in the tone of Jesus’s ministry, which highlighted Judgement Day and the repercussions of failing to publicly follow Jesus. Jesus’ wise warning is apt for our journey in following Christ today, as we navigate the challenges and complexities of this world and strive to live a life that is pleasing in His sight. We disown Jesus when we hope no one will think we are Christians, decide not to speak up for what is right, are silent about our relationship with God, blend into society, and accept our culture’s non-Christian values. By contrast, we acknowledge him when we live moral, upright, Christ-honoring lives, look for opportunities to share our faith with others, help others in need, take a stand for justice, love others, acknowledge our loyalty to Christ, use our lives and resources to carry out his desires rather than our own.
Concerning verses 11 and 12, the disciples knew they could never dominate a religious dispute with the well-educated Jewish leaders. However, they would not be left unprepared. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would supply the needed words. The disciples’ testimony might not make them look impressive, but it would still point out God’s work in the world through Jesus’ life. We need to pray for opportunities to speak for God, and then trust him to help us with our words. This promise of the Spirit’s help, however, does not compensate for lack of preparation. Remember that these disciples had three years of personal instruction and practical application. We also must study God’s Word. Then God will bring his truths to mind when we most need them, helping us present them in the most effective way.
Let us reflect on Jesus’ three crucial warnings:
1. Live a life free of hypocrisy:
Jesus highlights the danger of living to appeal to others. In doing so, our foundation is shifted away from God, and therefore, our intentions and actions are not God-honoring. Luke writes that the crowd around Jesus was so large that the crowd was trampling one another, which is similar to the crowd the Pharisees sought to attract. He compares the hypocrisy of the Pharisees to yeast, emphasizing the ability of false teachings to grow and expand significantly and influence others. In an age where success, popularity and achievement are glorified, one must ponder if the foundation of their actions are rooted in Christ or on selfish desires. Jesus urges this crowd to differentiate themselves from the Pharisees, whose intentions are to draw attention to themselves, rather than Christ. He reminds us of the day of Judgement, where nothing will be unknown or covered up and every intention will be revealed. Jesus calls us to love a life of authenticity, as God knows our hearts and nothing can be concealed from Him.
2.Recognize God’s Omnipotence and fear Him
Jesus reminds his followers how powerful he is – he is more powerful than any leader, government, celebrity, career and disease. We may often live in fear of other people’s opinions, which influences us to make foolish decisions. However, Jesus urges us to live in fear of Him because only He has ultimate Sovereignty. He offers a comforting reminder of God’s unconditional care and love for us by highlighting His careful concern for sparrows and stating how much more valuable we are than sparrows. It was never promised that living a God fearing life would be easy, however, he did promise “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).
3. Be Bold in your commitment to Christ
Jesus teaches his followers that to be a Christ follower means to be honest about one's commitment to Him and to be bold about proclaiming the Gospel. He instructs his followers about the importance of claiming Jesus to others, therefore when we stand in judgment, Jesus will claim us. He also warns of the dire consequences of not claiming him to others. If we deny Jesus and give into the pressures of this world, He will deny us. Jesus warned his followers not to succumb to the Pharisees’ religious pressures. We must not be anxious or fearful when confronted with opposition, as the Holy Spirit will help us navigate difficult situations. We are to be zealous followers of Christ.
May we live a life that represents the commitment and faith we have in the One who unconditionally and lovingly calls us His own.
Give us the strength to reflect on ourselves and reveal any hypocrisy that may be within us. Help us to live our Christian commitment authentically and boldly and may our lives point others towards You. In the midst of a world in which there are fears all around us, enable us to redirect ourselves to You. When we face opposition, may we rest on the assurance that the Holy Spirit will instruct us what to say. We ask for strength, empowerment, and courage to continue our faith journey boldly and unashamed.
Thought of the Day:
Live an authentic faith journey, fear God, and rest in the assurance that you are intimately loved and known by your Creator.
Divya Athyal Mathew, The Carmel Mar Thoma Church Boston