Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Three Pointing Back at Me 10/23/2013

"Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 'Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.' And He answered and said to them, 'Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?'" Matthew 15:1-3

As a young man, I once heard a person say, "I want to be careful about pointing fingers because every time I do it, I find three pointing back at me." Initially, I thought the idea of people standing around pointing at one another was a useless exercise in rudeness. It was not until much later that I was shown the architecture of the hand while pointing the index finger. Indeed, the other three fingers were pointed in the opposite direction.

Jesus' adversaries were always looking for a way to entrap and discredit him. They used every means possible to accomplish their goal. When they could not get at him personally (and make no mistake, it was always about him personally) they would use someone like the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-12) or even his apostles. In this case, they accused the apostles of violating their traditions. By extension, they claimed the guilt of Jesus because he was their teacher.

It must be noted that these traditions were not spiritually binding but had become religiously and socially binding because of the adversaries themselves. They were the people in charge of a religion that ruled local society. Yet Jesus was able to counter by pointing out their failure at upholding what should have been their priority (obedience to the word of God) in favor of their traditions. Specifically, he pointed out their violation of God's commandment to honor father and mother by withholding support of their parents with the excuse of saying their resources were dedicated to God.

Beloved, when we point an accusing finger, there are two things we must consider. First, what is the spirit that motivates us to do it? Are we approaching a person who has violated God's command in privacy and in love that they might recognize, repent and renew or are we simply scandal mongering out of our own spiritual immaturity and failure to love? Second, have we given thought to our own shortcomings? In the previously mentioned incident involving the woman caught in the act of adultery, the accusers wanted to stone her. Jesus famously invited everyone who had no sin to go right ahead. Note that he did not stipulate adultery as the sin, but sin of any type.

Does this mean that because we are all guilty we should never say anything to anyone to help them when they have stumbled? Absolutely not. The Bible says in Galatians 6:1 (NIV), "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted" (emphasis mine). When we point with one finger, let us all be mindful of "the three pointing back at me."



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