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Majoring in the Minors-May 13, 2024

What is most important in your life? Are you majoring in the minor things or are the big ones taking over?

Monday Morning Devotion-May 13, 2024

Majoring in the Minors

"You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees!  Frauds!  You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God's Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment---the absolute basics! --- you carelessly take it or leave it.  Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics ae required.  Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that's wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?"       Matthew 23: 23-24   The Message

*From May 2017

           My goodness!  Are you still with me?  I know we are just getting started with this devotion, but those are some hard words in the scripture it's based on.  Imagine what is to come, if you stay with me for the entire devotion.  I can imagine people deserting at this point and figuring they have better things to do right now.  And truthfully, I'm not totally sure where this is going. 

            I picked up Adam Hamilton's book: "When Christians Get it Wrong," started reading and felt lead to share some things with you.  I'll admit this beginning has the tone of one of those old time "fire and brimstone" sermons where everybody is going to hell if they don't mend their ways.  Hopefully, that is not what this devotion will be.  We always strive to accentuate the positive, so this should just stimulate our thinking about where we are in the life story we are writing.

            You may not think you are a writer but you are.  We all are.  No matter if you think that you can't string two words together on paper and start creating a story, you can.  You are doing it every day.  You may not be writing it down but the way we live our lives is the way we write the story of who we really are.

            Notice in the scripture reading that it didn't take Matthew but six words before he started blasting the Pharisees.  They are the Biblical bad guys.  Why?  Because they are viewed as the ultimate hypocrites.  They made the laws so rigid and so strongly enforced them that the people chafed under their hard and rigid rules.

            Let me share what Hamilton says about that: "We are all Recovering Pharisees."  Say what?  Come on Adam.  Not us.  We are Christians.  They are the ones the Pharisees came down hardest on. 

      Read on: "Today's Pharisees are religious people who struggle with wrong motives, with being critical and judgmental of others, with missing the point and with being two-faced."  Wow!  That's pretty harsh!  And this is coming from a great pastor and best-selling author who writes some of the most positive and helpful books and sermons that I've read.

            Let's go farther and see what he says.   "Everyone I know, religious people and atheists alike, struggles with these four tendencies. It is so easy to do the right things for all the wrong reasons.  It is so easy to point out the sins of others, while ignoring our own.  Most us are experts at 'majoring in the minors' while failing to do the really important things God demands of us.  And which of us has never put on a face and pretended to be something we're not?  It is only in recognizing our tendency to be Pharisees that we have any hope of remaining in recovery."

            Adam said that one young adult he talked to who was not a Christian said: "I don't mind that you Christians don't live up to your ideals.  I don't live up to all of my ideals either.  In the end, I guess we're all hypocrites.  It seems that many Christians haven't figured this out yet."

            Hmm!  Or should I say ouch!  That is something for us to think about!  Actually, when you think about it we are surrounded by a lot of negativity in one form or another.  And if, as Christians, we don't remain more positive, friendly and charitable then the dark things in life will win out.

            If we are so judgmental and critical of others that they feel defeated then it would be natural for them to look at us and how our lives are being played out.  How our life story is being written leads them to think they certainly don't want to be like that.  If that is what a Christian is like, forget it. 

            But in fairness, Hamilton says, "Every Christian gets it wrong sometimes."  But, we don't have to be the very Pharisees that Jesus preached against.  And yes there are many Christians who get it right. 

            As Christians trying to figure out just how "getting it right looks" the Apostle Paul described it when he used words like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

            Now just how many of those can we incorporate into our own lives.  Doesn't that sound kind of pie-in-the-sky-ish?  Really, I think we have some of each of those as a part of our lives.  There are many ways to show each of those in the actions we take and the way we live.

            Nobody can express all of those all the time and in everything we do.  If we did we would be perfect and I think we all realize that only one person has achieved perfection.

            It won't be held against us when we fail…when we get it wrong as Christians.  God doesn't keep score.  It's not like we are in extra innings; the game is all tied up anad we need one more run to break the tie.  Let's see.  Could we score the winning run with some generosity or perhaps a little kindness? Well, wouldn't love be the thing that drives those? 

            No, I think we should just meditate on those things from time to time.  Just ask ourselves how have I showed love today?  Was I patient with others or critical when they were slow or didn't measure up to my expectations?

            What about my self-control? Was that exemplary or not?  Did we fly off the handle or make a mistake and try to make it all right with an "It's not my fault?"

            Let's face it we are never going to get everything right.  But, as Christians, when we get it wrong that is not the end of the story.  The end rests with the Lord's plan for us and he just wants us to get better at this being a Christian thing because we are representing Him.

            So, let's quit majoring in the minors and then as our life story keeps changing we will be writing a best-seller.

Prayer: Lord may we honor you in all our ways so that we can write the life story you have planned for us.  Amen!



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