Friday, December 12, 2014

Carry a Flashlight and Don't Play the Trumpet...

Writing this post is a daunting task... I am not looking for a battle.. battles cause wounds and wounds create bitterness and bitterness fights against love... and I really want to be a spreader of love... maybe that's why these two scripture passages stood out to me.

Matthew 5:14-16
14“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 6:2-4
2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

These are red letter verses here people... Jesus said both of these things in the same sermon on the mount!  I have heard each of these two points used against each other in arguments.  So which is it?  Let your light shine so that people can see your good deeds or keep it a secret, private, between only you and God?

I'm not a scholar and I tend to do a lot of interpreting scripture with my gut.  Relying on the Holy Spirit whispers that remind me that the word is living and can be relevant to me in different ways as my life evolves and changes.  The advice I take can be different than my brother or sister.  And the lessons I learn may or may not be a hill to die on.  There are few things I hold tight to with a closed fist...

Here's my humble take on maybe why there are two passages of scripture so close together that express very different methods to love your neighbor.  Your eye.  "The Hebrew language uses 'eye' in many idioms that describe a person's attitude toward others." (Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg)

It seems a little too simple to be the be all that ends all answer to this old debate... and maybe it is.  Keeping in mind though that love seems to be really important to Jesus according to quite a few bible verses,  I'd be willing to guess that He cares about your attitude toward those that we give to.  Do we turn up our noses at the guy shivering on the street corner because he obviously doesn't know how to manage money very well, honestly he is smoking a cigarette, does he even know what those things cost?  Then puff out our chests, find the perfect Instagram filter and post all over Facebook and Twitter that photo we took as we tossed a loonie into his paper cup?  The problem, as I see it, is not posting that photo, it's the intention behind it.  

Social media is powerful, but just like money it is neutral until we determine how we will use the tool before us.  Our status updates and the pics we post can be used to so a lot of good.   They can shine light so inviting that people want to join you.  We can encourage others to add to the light, whether it's by joining us on our next "hand out hot chocolate on the street" night, or just tweaking an attitude closer to grace and love for those in need. 

If you get nothing else out of this...take away this lesson... always carry a flashlight and don't play the trumpet!

Chime in here... What are your thoughts?  
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  1. I have been taught that the second passage was talking about a custom for the Pharisees to actually have a procession or trumpeters proceed them as they went out to do their good acts- they were actually trying to earn their way to heaven.
    That said, I think it means to proclaim Jesus or your light within, but don't proclaim yourself.
    And, you are absolutely right in letting the Holy Spirit speak to you when reading the text.
    PS- If the hot chocolate giving initiated these thoughts, I know a few people that were encouraged and spurred on by yours gals giving out hot chocolate and you rock!!

    1. Very interesting historical tidbit. Thanks Tara.

  2. Miranda's Comment that I somehow deleted: It's a fine line... I have also read people "rebuking" people for not loving their neighbor enough yet never really saying what they have done. It's look hypocritical. I think I have come to a place of accepting no matter what you do there are going to people (not happy people) that are going to judge EVERYTHING, right down to peoples motives with never speaking a word to them. Never investing anytime to get to know the heart of their brother or sister. So I say live your life to the best you believe to be right and not worry about what the next person is thinking. God with take care of each heart himself

  3. I think it's about heart attitude/intention. If we give and are "look at me, look at me", then that would be the trumpeting. Going about our business, living and loving the way Christ has called us to, would be the light shining through. The 'be salt and be light' passages are right with each other- we are called to be an influence in the world around us,not say "I believe" but then there is no fruit to "show" we believe (ref.James)