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God is the Judge

In the sermon on the mount (Matt 6:1-4), Jesus warns against performing righteous deeds to win the praise and approval of people. The warning is necessary judging from the fact we are descended from Adam and we suffer from the inclination to want others notice us. If we go that route, the danger is to fall into hypocricy. If you always want to please others (no matter what) and seek their approval, you sometimes need to put on a mask. It is much harder to do righteous deeds when no one is watching than to do them when friends are watching.

The motives of our “righteous deeds” are important. Jesus had a problem with some of the religious leaders of his time for this very reason. He condemned their selfish desire to be noticed and honored in public (Matt 23: 4-6), as well as the exaggerated importance they attached to externally observable and measurable piety (Matt 23:23-25). Of course, Jesus does not oppose piety in itself. He is rather pointing out that everything has its place and time. Again, it is important to remember that God is the ultimate judge of all our actions (done in secret or in public). And if God is the judge, then my primary motivation is to please him and not my friends or relatives or peers. Whatever I say or do, the the person who most matters is God, for he will judge me.

In trying to please others, instead of God, many people have abandoned their fundamental Christian values and have settled for superficial values. If what I want is people’s approval, what do I care about the state of my heart? Afterall, how  will people read my heart and give me the approval I seek? What I care is to keep the outside of the cup clean, because that is what people see. The consequence? Hypocricy and deception. Today, Christ is asking us to abandon the “I-want-to-win-their-approval” attitude. In place of that, he wants us to keep God before our eyes for he is the real judge to whom we are accountable.

God bless  you for opening up to God’s Word. Remember: You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (Jn 8:32). Stay blessed!

Where do you stand?

Where do you stand? based on Joshua 24:15. (By Fr. Ogoe, 08-26-12)

I tell my friends the “ordeal” I sometimes have to go through at the grocery store. It is certainly not a bad thing to have assorted variety of things to choose from. The problem I have is that when I go to the grocery store I am faced with “too many” choices. Because there are too many things to choose from, I sometimes get confused and I end up spending more time than I need to do what is supposed to be a simple shopping expedition.

Speaking of “choices” and “options,” there seems to be an emerging idea among people today that the more options you have, the greater your freedom. In other words, the extent of choices available to you determines the extent of your freedom. Of course, I cannot subscribe to such a philosophy.

The Good News for us is that our God is simple and he keeps matters of salvation pretty straightforward and simple. Salvation is about making a simple decision. It is about declaring your stand by choosing one of only two possibilities: eternal life or eternal damnation. Eternal salvation does not involve complex decisions. When he sent his prophets, they came with a clear message accompanied by very clear consequences, depending on one’s response. The Word of God is addressed to every man, and it always demands a decision on the part of the hearer. Before Joshua took over the mantle of leadership in Israel, Moses put a challenge before the Israelites. He urged them to choose between life and death, blessing and curse (cf. Deut 30:15-19).

So my friends, you see, no one has the option to remain neutral or indifferent. And there aren’t too many options before you. The Devil will try to persuade you into thinking that you have an infinite number of options. As you probably know, he is a liar. There is no truth in him. Unfortunately for him, he has run out of options, and filled with rage and envy, he is bent on making you share his fate. The truth is that you have two options. You are either with the Lord of Life or with Satan (the Prince of Death). You are either on the side of darkness or on the side of Light. You are either on the path to Heaven or on the path to Hell. There is no neutral position or middle ground between the options. Where do you stand? With whom do you choose stand?

The sad reality is that, today, many people go by the name “Christian” but have not declared their stand. They have not made the fundamental choice. For a number of reasons, they keep postponing the moment of decision. They find themselves on an imaginary and ultimately deceptive middle path between Christ and the “world.” At the time of the prophet Elijah, the Israelites manifested a similar problem. They stubbornly vacillated between the Lord and Baal until Elijah literally pushed them into deciding where they stood. It was clear that for Elijah, the Israelites could continue to straddle the issue. They could not longer serve two masters: God and Baal (cf. 1Kings 18:21-24).

Dear friends, procrastination is a killer. Spiritual laziness is harmful to the soul. Do not postpone your day of salvation as if time is your property. The moment of deciding for Christ is now. Show yourself! No more hide and seek. No more playing games with God. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart” (Psalm 95:7). If you wish to commit yourself to Jesus the Lord, I invite you to say the following prayer:

Dear Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. I have often gone astray. Forgive me and wash me in your Precious Blood. I renounce Satan and worldliness. I confess you as my God, my Master, my King and my Lord. Come into my life and take control. Thank you Lord. Amen.

God richly bless you for deciding that you stand with Christ Jesus. Get in touch with trusted Christian brother or sister to help you grow. You are always welcome to leave your comment. I love to read them. Until next time … I have decided to follow Jesus … No going back.