“Give to those who ask, and don’t refuse those who wish to borrow from you.” Matt. 5:42
In the season between Epiphany and Lent, the Lectionary Gospel scriptures are from Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount. Some of Jesus’ instructions about things like loving enemies, being meek, being merciful, rejoicing when you are persecuted, turning the other cheek, and going the extra mile are hard lessons.
A couple of Sundays ago, I spoke on the Gospel Scripture: Matthew 5:38-48. I spoke about how on a world scale of 7 billion people, many of us are very prosperous. I spoke about finding ways to reach out and help others. After the benediction, I got some of the usual “good message, Pastor.”
My wife and I had driven separately. I had a meeting before the service and she had granddaughters with her. When she headed out to the parking area after the service, she found a flat tire on her car. By the time I came out, several of the men had already begun to work on the car. A couple already had their hands dirty, one had a nice jack (much better than the Buick emergency one), another had a lug wrench, and one volunteered to go after his air tank. They were living out Jesus’ message to care for others. I was so proud of these guys.
Many of us have been hearing Jesus’ instructions for as long as we can remember. Many of us have professed to be His followers. Yet living up to many of Jesus’ instructions is very difficult. We may think this is a problem in our culture. But apparently, it’s been a problem for Jesus’ followers for a couple thousand years: “Brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it?” (James 2:14).
We are now in the season of Lent, the 40-day season leading up to Easter. It is customary in many of our traditions for us to “give up” something. Often we give up things that are detrimental to us. If you have started that pledge, I wish you good luck.
Another option for observing Lent might be to add something. If you would like some ideas, Matthew 5 – 7 (the Sermon on the Mount) would be a place to find some good “suggestions.”