Friday, September 22, 2017

61 - What to do When ...

... You Give To Charity


"Take care not to be doing your charitable giving before men, so as to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have not a reward from your Father in heaven.

Whenever therefore you do charitable giving, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by men. Assuredly I say to you, they receive their reward in full.

But when you do charitable giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your charitable giving may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will Himself reward you openly. Mat. 6:1-4 EMTV



Some commentaries insist that there is a big difference between charitable giving in verse 1 and the charitable giving in verse 2.  Notice: When you do good deeds (verse 1) and When you give to the poor (verse 2). CEV.


The reason this is important is that with this difference emphasized it becomes clear that verse one, When you do good deeds, is the caption for the various righteous things that Christ will be speaking of in this sermon.  

1. When you give to the poor do it for the poor and do not sound a trumpet.  It does not appear that any such practice was literally performed, as blowing a trumpet before them, when they gave their alms. Gill   Sounding the trumpet was Christ's way of emphasizing the feeling that He got when He noticed how ostensibly hypocrites do give.  

They sound a trumpet in the synagogues and in the streets.  Both in church and in business locations.  How often we have all seen this:  

- In churches at the end of the pew, or at the entrance to the church library is a little, sometimes not so little, plaque with words that might say "humbly gifted by John Smith" on it.  I can assure you that they already have their reward. CEV

- men, women or businesses give huge donations to charity and so often it is done with a lot of fanfare with thousands, or more, people watching. I can assure you that they already have their reward. CEV

-  A number of years ago there was a fund raising auction sale.  The first thing to be auctioned was an imaginary loaf of bread.  The money raised by that loaf of bread was destined to feed the hungry.  This is a great purpose but the man who bid $500.00 for it made sure we all heard and saw him.  He wanted all of us to think that he was a very benevolent man.  I can assure you that he already has his reward. CEV. 

They, the hypocrites, give so that they may be praised by men.  If you do it so that you're giving to be praised by humans than that praise is all you will get.  The grammar of the ancient Greek here is emphatic. When Jesus says they have their reward, the word have can be understood as “paid in full.” Guzik

However when you do charitable giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (this, again, is a hyperbole by Christ) so that your charitable giving may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will Himself reward you openly.

... You Pray


And whenever you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and on the street corners, so that they may be seen by men. Assuredly I say to you, that they receive their reward in full.

But you, whenever you pray, enter into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you openly.

But when you pray, do not babble like the heathen, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him.
Mat. 6:5-8 EMTV

2. you shall not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing:  Of course, if you're standing you are easier to see.

in the synagogues: this makes you look holy. 

on the street corners: more people will see you at the corner of the street than halfway down the block.  If being thought of as holy is what they want I can assure you that they already have their reward. CEV

Unless praying in public is part of your job description pray to your Father who is in secret.  

When you pray, do not babble like the heathen, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  I suppose that almost all of us who attend church have heard someone "pray" and we were convinced that they prayed so long just because they loved to hear themselves talk.

... You Fast


Moreover, when you fast, do not become gloomy, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting.  If you are fasting so that others will know that you are fasting Assuredly I say to you, you have received your reward in full.  

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face (look normal) so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. Mat. 6:16-18 

3. The Mosaic law ... never enjoins fasting. Fausset.  Surely there are times when it is right, even necessary, to put aside the necessities of life so that we can focus on repentance and/or prayer.  These times might come many times, or maybe only a few times.  When they do come we must make sure that we do not push them aside!  However, let's not relegate those times to certain days or events; if we do, the whole effort tends to become ritualistic and meaningless. 

Rather than going without food or sleep or other pleasures for no apparent reasons we might choose to follow Jehovah's guidelines.  He says:

Nay, in the days of your fasts ye find your pleasures, and all them that are under your power ye wound.

I have not chosen such a fast, saith the Lord;
- but do thou loose every burden of iniquity,
this is believed, by some, to mean (do your best to overturn any unjust court case).

- do thou untie the knots of hard bargains, If you forced someone into a business deal because you had him "over the barrel"; undo it.

- set the bruised free, Jewish law stated that if a slave owner purposely damaged a slave in certain ways that slave was to be set free.  Some slave owners did not do that.

- and cancel every unjust account.  How could you even think of "seeking God's face" if you are guilty of swindling anyone?

- Break thy bread to the hungry, share your food with the hungry.

- and lead the unsheltered poor to thy house: share the comforts of your home with the needy.

- if thou seest one naked, clothe him, buy the needy some clothing.

- and thou shalt not disregard the relations of thine own seed. Don't turn your back on your own kin even if they are hard to get along with.

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily spring forth: and thy righteousness shall go before thee, and the glory of God shall compass thee. 
Isaiah 58:3+6-8 Brenton Version

Or, as Christ said, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you openly.

Friday, September 15, 2017

60 - Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 

But I say to you, that whoever looks at a woman in order to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members be lost, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members be lost, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a divorce certificate.'

But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for a matter of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.
 Mat. 5:27-32 


Adultery


You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'.  For centuries already the law has been repeated and you know it well.  But your interpretation of this law does not affect the heart.

Many and severe are the prohibitions of the Jews, concerning looking upon a woman, which they aggravate as a very great sin: they say: 
- it is not lawful to look upon a beautiful woman, though unmarried;  
- nor upon a woman's coloured garments: 
- they forbid looking on a woman's little finger, 
- and say that he that tells (counts) money to a woman, out of his hand into her's, that he may look upon her (this sounds like prostitution) ... shall not escape the damnation of hell: 
- they affirm that he that looks upon a woman's heel, his children shall not be virtuous; 
- and that a man may not go after (walk behind) a woman in the way, no, not after (behind) his wife, he must take her to the side of him, (the idea seems to be that he might see her heel, or worse yet, he might notice her waistline; so he must walk beside her so that he cannot see her) 
- they forbid a man looking on the beauty of his own wife.  

Now these things were said by them ... because they would be thought to be very chaste; when they were, as Christ calls them, an "adulterous generation" in a literal sense: they usually did what our Lord observes, "strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel". Gill.  This means that they were extremely picky about the minutest details and at the same time miss the whole point.

So the men in such a society insist that the women wear overbearingly hot clothing all summer long just so that everyone will think of those same men, that make those rules, are above ever thinking of committing adultery.

Christ continues, So I am saying to you whoever looks at a woman in order to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

On the other side of the globe, in North America, many women walk the city streets wearing almost nothing.  Don't they realize that a woman in a pretty dress is much more beautiful than an under dressed woman is?  But, enough of that.

Men walking the same streets will, of course, see the women, but that does not mean that they are even considering committing adultery.   The sin is not in seeing, it is in lusting; it is a matter of the heart.  Some Bible teachers explain it like this: if you would do it if you thought you could get away with it than you are already guilty of doing it.

Speaking in hyperboles, to emphasize the truth, Christ said, if you cannot look at a woman without having impure thoughts about her, gouge out your offending eye.


We, Christians, are so prone to think glibly of Jehovah's attitude towards sin.  If you do not always treat a woman in a gentlemanly manner cut off your offending hand.  If you do not do that, you might do something which will incur Jehovah's damnation.

Divorce


Christ continues, Not only that but it has been said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a divorce certificate.  Under Jewish law, a man can divorce a woman for any reason or no reason. The Talmud specifically says that a man can divorce a woman because she spoiled his dinner or simply because he finds another woman more attractive, and the woman's consent to the divorce is not required. Judaism 101.

The Pharisees asked Christ Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?  If Christ would have said "yes" there would have been a lot less friction between Him and the Pharisees.  

Instead of agreeing He said, a man ... shall be joined to his wife ... So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. This was Jehovah's original plan. But because of the hardness of your hearts, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives. Mat. 19:5-6.

Christ's standards are higher than those of the Pharisees.  He said, whoever divorces his wife, except for a matter of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery;  Unless your wife is already guilty of sexual immorality if you divorce her you are the one that is guilty of causing her to commit adultery.

The idea seems to be that a woman should not be expected to live unmarried the rest of her life just because her husband discarded her.  The problem is that she becomes the wife of another man while her first husband is still alive.  Her first husband is responsible for her situation because he divorced her without just cause.

whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.  Not only is the wife, who was forced to get divorced, guilty of adultery but the man who marries her is also guilty of adultery because, in Jehovah's eyes, that woman is still part of her first husband ever since the two became one.

What seems so absurd is that many people in various Christian denominations love to claim "all" the words of Christ as infallible; all, that is, except this statement by Christ whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.  

This statement is so completely disregarded by many denominations.  Is it because the preacher does not want to lose any church members?  Is it because churches always tend to go with the flow of society, ignoring what the Bible actually teaches?  Christian churches are to be the moral leaders in any society, not the followers.

Here we are not even considering the idea of living together without being married.  If divorce and remarriage were not so easy in our society, and especially in the Christian churches, perhaps couples would try harder to be easier to get along with.    After all, living alone is not much fun.

Even though this post is written with males in mind, if the necessary changes are made, it also applies to females.  They also cannot do whatever they may feel like doing and still remain pure!

Friday, September 8, 2017

59 - Thou Shalt Not Murder

"You have heard that it was said to the ancients, 'You shall not kill,' and whoever kills will be liable to the judgment. 

But I say to you that whoever gets angry with his brother without cause will be liable to the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Empty-head!' will be liable to the council. But whoever says, ' fool!' will be liable to the fiery hell. 

Therefore if you offer your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you,  

leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  

Make friends with your adversary quickly, while you are on the road with him, lest your adversary hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be cast into prison. 

Assuredly I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. 
Mat 5:21-26 EMTV


That is No Little Sin


We noticed in the last post that Jesus Christ did not agree with the Roman Catholic church that there are mortal and venial sins.  James wrote, For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he has become guilty of all. James 2:10.  All sin is sin! 

Let us not flatter ourselves into thinking that those things we call "little sins" will be overlooked by The Just Judge.  They must be accounted for and Paul wrote, the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 6:23. 

Life after sin is possible but it cannot be achieved by hours of penance, self-torture, or paying indulgences.  It is available to us only because Christ Jesus died and rose again and we must be willing to accept that as the only payment for our sins.

Christ continues with the topic of "big sins" versus "little sins".  You have heard whoever kills (commits premeditated murder) will be liable to the judgment. (such an one must be put to death ... "by the house of judgment", the country's highest court system.) Gill.

Note that this word kill does not include a soldier's actions in a war.  I have more about this in: https://wwwthinkagai.blogspot.com/2012/07/is-pacifism-biblical.html


Anger



Christ continues, But I say to you that whoever gets angry with his brother (fellow human) without cause will be liable to the judgment.  Certainly, Christians are allowed to be angry when there is a reason for it, but not without cause.

Road rage is a good example of this.  Someone pulls in front of us, into the space which we rightfully thought was ours, and immediately we seeth.  This is anger without cause.  It might have been the other driver's innocent mistake, but even if it wasn't, so what if he is ahead of us rather than behind us.  No big deal!  Keep your cool.

It seems strange that Christ said that we will be brought to court for being angry about something.  The idea could be that we won't be taken to court for being angry but because of how we act in our anger and, in the example above, attack the other driver with a tire iron, or worse, and so we end up in court on a murder charge. 


Slander


It sounds as if Christ is speaking of slander because He says whoever says to his brother, 'Empty-head!' will be liable to the council (in Christ's day this meant the Jewish Sanhedrim. Strong G4892.)   The Supreme Council of the land. 

Instead of Empty-head the KJV uses the word Raca and some Bible commentators say that this word represents the worst that any person could call another person.

Judgement


But whoever says, 'fool!' will be liable to the fiery hell.  The word fool, in this case, designates a person as morally worthless and an apostate.  If a person takes it upon himself to judge another's character that way, he, himself, should receive a punishment fit for a rebel against God, that is, everlasting destruction. NW Com.  We may judge another person's actions but we may never judge another person's character!

Therefore,  (because, if the previous statement is true), if you offer your gift on the altar, (or your tithe in the offering plate) and there you remember that your brother has something against you, (this is important because your eternal welfare depends on this) leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Mat. 5:23-24. 

All of a sudden, during the church service, you remember that a fellow human being is upset with you so don't put off making things right with him/her.  If necessary leave the church service right then, as soon as you think of the problem, and be reconciled with your brother.  Later you come back and worship the Lord, with a clean slate.

I am sure that almost every one of us knows someone who refuses to seek reconciliation with some one else.  To them, Saint John writes Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15 NW.


Going to Court


If someone is threatening to take you to court do your level best to placate him.  Make friends with your adversary quickly; if you don't, the judge may find you guilty and you end up in jail and there you will stay until the whole debt has been paid.  You are much further ahead to just swallow your pride, try to avoid a court case, and not spend your income earning years in prison.

As far as a Christian taking a fellow Christian to a non-Christian court, St. Paul made it very clear that such a thing is not allowed.  Does any of you, having a matter against another, dare go to court before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 

So is there not among you a wise man, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brother and another?  Rather than taking a Christian to a civil court, find a wise man, in your church and accept his decision.  But brother goes to court against brother, and this before unbelievers (to a civil court)

First of all, it is actually a defeat for you that you have lawsuits against one another (a Christian against a Christian).
Secondly, Why not rather accept wrong? Why not rather accept being defrauded? 
Thirdly, you wrong and defraud, and these things to your brothers! 1 Cor. 6:1-8.  It completely destroys a church's testimony when non-Christians hear about Christians cheating Christians and then taking the poor defrauded brother to court.