Heavy Burdens and False Hopes

Somalian victim of drought

Somalian victim of drought

“You have discouraged the righteous with your lies, but I didn’t want them to be sad. And you have encouraged the wicked by promising them life, even though they continue in their sins.”  Ezekiel 13:22

This is scary.  God will not be happy if I am disheartening people who are righteous.  I can put heavy burdens on the shoulders of others, as Jesus said the Pharisees did in Matthew 23.  I can stress all the things they are supposed to being doing to the point that I go beyond the commands of Jesus.  I could make them feel bad if they aren’t getting up first thing in the morning and having a great devotional time, or if they don’t share their faith with each person they meet.  These are great Godly things, but I can’t bind them on people.

But just as scary is the possibility that I would gloss over someone’s sin in an effort to not seem too condemning, so they think what they are doing is okay.

“And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”  (Luke 6:

This is a passage of the Bible I would like to gloss over, and yet it is the heart of Jesus’ message.  I don’t want to look to closely at it because  I am rich, full, happy, and people speak well of me.  It is much easier to read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and think, “Yes, I am poor in spirit, I know I need God.”  It’s more difficult to think that my riches are keeping me from heaven, or that my people pleasing is making me a false prophet.

I can study out sin in the Bible with someone.  I can talk to them about lust, immorality, drunkenness, laziness, selfishness, fits of rage, etc.  But do I talk about materialism as sin?  Do I tell them, and myself, that God will judge us for how we care about the least of these, for sitting in our comfortable homes while others are dying from hunger?

World poverty seems like a black hole of needs that could consume us  How much should we get engaged in meeting these needs?  Ken and I increased our giving to HOPE Worldwide this year, giving 4X as much, but even that seems very small.  At the least, I would like to increase my awareness of the situation, and research it more, finding out what is going on in different areas of the world.  May I do what is pleasing to God, above all else, and may my life be a clear message to others on how God expects us to live our lives.

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Filed under Ezekiel, Luke, Social Justice

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