Monday of the First Week in Lent

2019 Devotions Daily Devotions March

Lv 19:1,2,11-18; Ps 19:8-10,15; Mt 25:31-46:  The words of the LORD are Spirit and Life.  The LORD speaks, and we listen.  His Word is all we need to live and to live abundantly.  The Word of the Lord became flesh and dwelt among us.  This Word is not only available; it is within us Spirit and Life.  We have a word that directs us; the Torah refreshes the soul because it gives us the assurance of the constancy of the Lord’s guidance.  The LORD speaks and his wisdom cuts like a double-edged sword making it possible to discern the truth.  Our hearts rejoice to have the LORD interested and involved in our daily struggles.  There are times when simple obedience to God’s command clears up any confusion and dispels all foggy thinking.  This clarity evokes a genuine fear of the LORD whose purity shines brightly and faithfully into the darkness all around us.  This Just and Merciful LORD only ordains what is best for us in every human situation and at every time in human history.  Indeed, our words of praise and our thoughts of admiration are heartfelt and constant because the LORD is our rock and our redeemer.  From the very beginning of God’s covenant with the human race, we have been taught about the importance of the heart in matters of personal and public behavior.  We are commanded in Leviticus to not bear hatred in our hearts and not to cherish a grudge.  These matters of the heart are simplified in the preaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. He commanded us to treat one another as we would treat him.

The command of the LORD to the whole assembly of those who followed Moses is stark and simple: “Be holy!” This is the same command of the LORD to us today.  We are to be holy simply because the LORD our God is holy.  We are to reveal his holiness in history.  By the way, we live out our daily lives the whole world is to come to know and love the LORD.  This is his purpose in creating and redeeming a people to be his own.  It is through this holy people that all people are to grow in the desire to be like God, to be one with the LORD.  This holiness of life shows up in truth and justice, in honesty and fairness.  We are even commanded to be careful of cursing those who can’t defend themselves or blocking the way for someone who is blind.  Even political, economic, or military power cannot blind us; we are to evaluate everyone on the basis of character.  Even someone’s good name cannot be dragged through the mud; we are not to stand by idly and ignore someone being hurt or neglected.  All of these dos and don’ts arise out of a heart that is full of love, full of God.  Only when the people of God live like God will the whole world be made new. Only then will the LORD God Almighty be so near and so real that all people will want to be the People of God.

The New Moses, Jesus the Christ, has come to fulfill the whole law and to make the beauty and power of that law available to every nation, tribe, and people.  The Lord Jesus teaches his first disciples and his contemporary disciples the same lesson through the image of the sheep and the goats.  These two types of farm animals probably needed to be separated so that the sheep could be shorn and the goats could be milked.  This domestic distinction helps to unfold the mystery of the judgment. Both those welcome into the Kingdom and those barred from entry into the Kingdom are judged by the same standard, “Did you or did you not care for the person in need?”  Any needy person stands in place of the Lord Jesus.  Every needy person makes the Lord Jesus present to a potential helper.  Neither the generous and helpful person nor the stingy and unhelpful person noticed that the very needy one represents the Lord Jesus, himself.  We who have been through Lent with great care and concentration have learned, year after year, that our holiness is the very gift we can use to brighten the darkness.  It is our relationship with Christ the Lord that keeps us attentive and ready to respond whenever need we may notice in our neighbor.