Get Rid of Gossip

In many places throughout Scripture, we are warned of the dangers of talking idly about others, particularly speaking inappropriately or uncharitably, especially regarding another’s behavior, appearance, motives, or reputation. Gossip is so popular and typical in many of our conversations, that oftentimes we are arms deep into it before we even realize we’re doing it, and it can become a habit, or even the basis of “friendly” gatherings.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus explains how the people were gossiping about himself as well as John the Baptist. He says, “John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinner.’” (NAB, MT 11:18-19) These are the irreverent, inappropriate, and uncharitable remarks about John the Baptist, the one about whom Jesus says, “among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist.” (11:11) And these are the rantings about Jesus, the Christ, Son of God.

How wrong our gossip can be! We must be so very careful here, to ensure that we ourselves are not drawn into the judgmental conversations we encounter in our daily lives. As Christians, we pursue Truth, we pursue Love, and we pursue Wisdom. These are present in Christ, and so, as we seek Christ in others, we become able to witness Wisdom “vindicated by her works” (11:18), where grace allows us to, as yet, live imperfectly in the Kingdom of God, with faith and hope to sustain us.

I know that I am judgmental, and that only you, Lord, see with the eyes of perfect Truth. Help me to seek you in others and to find your presence in the world. Give me your grace to speak of others with charity, compassion, and understanding. Allow me to see your Wisdom as she expresses herself in works of faith and love. May I grow ever stronger in my love for others so that you may be glorified in my life. Amen.

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The Father’s Will

One of the most common and well-known prayers in Christianity is the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….” When we pray this prayer, we ask that God’s Will be effected, realized, and manifested in our lives, “on earth,” as it were. Our prayer is that we, our entire lives, including all of our actions, be united with the Divine Will of our Heavenly Father. The mark of true and righteous Christians is not merely that they call upon the Lord and speak of him, but rather, that the divine is revealed in and through their very lives; the presence of Jesus himself is exposed through this cooperative work of one’s will and that of God’s as it is lived out in humility and love.

Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (NAB, MT 7:21) Works don’t get us into heaven, but works certainly demonstrate our faith, and faith without works becomes mere words. True Christian discipleship is expressed in both faith and works, as the wings of our soul soaring toward heavenly heights.

Heavenly Father, increase my faith and increase my desire, fortitude, and courage to do your will. Give me the grace I need, so that I may live my Christian life to its fullest in both faith and works. All that I have comes from you, and I can do nothing without you. In my humility, may my life give you glory, honor, and praise. Amen.

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Confess Jesus

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.” (NAB, ROM 10:9-10) This verse of Scripture is often misapplied by those trying to establish that salvation is secured by a single act on the part of a believer. “Just say it, and you’re saved.” I like to quote the great Scott Hahn, who sharply says, “A text taken out of context is a pretext.” In other words, you can’t simply quote the English translation of a biblical text without considering the greater context of the passage, book, and entire Bible itself. One who does so is exposed to great danger of misunderstanding what was meant and failing to see the Truth in God’s Word.

One consideration is that for a person at the time of Christ, to confess that Jesus is Lord, that person would be committing treason. The only person to be publicly proclaimed as lord was the Roman Emperor; to call Jesus “Lord” could very easily result in one’s torture and execution. To confess with the lips was a profound act of faith and trust in God, both of which result from the gift of God’s grace.

Secondly, there is no reason to believe that confessing Jesus as Lord is a one-time deal. Quite the contrary. The reality, substantiated by the full context of Scripture (cf., MT 10, 2TM 2, HEB 4, HEB 10, etc.), is that we are to continually confess Jesus as Lord, throughout our lives, until our physical death, and when we sin, we are to reconcile ourselves with those whom we’ve sinned against and with God, and “then bring your gift to the altar.” (MT 5:23-24) Thus, by God’s grace, we are all called to “work out [our] salvation in fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12), as we confess Jesus as our Lord by faith and through our works of love.

Jesus, I accept you as my Lord, and I thank you for the gift of grace given to me. Increase my faith so that my very life becomes my confession, that every word that goes forth from my mouth (nay, from my heart), gives you honor and glory through all that I do as your disciple. Amen.

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