Tuesday, February 3. Matthew 7:1-29.
Today’s reading gives us an opportunity to ask an important question. Ask yourself: How much energy do I spend trying to get people to like me, approve of me, or, at least, notice me?
I think, if we are honest, we spend a great deal of energy on this pursuit. I know I wrestle with seeking people’s approval on a daily basis.
Here’s a secret that I have learned over the years. Seeking people’s approval–even seeking God’s approval–is a tiring, never-ending, treadmill that leads to nowhere. Jesus gives us the antidote to this broad road in the entire sermon on the Mount that we’ve been reading the past few days. He sums it up today.
The secret is this: you don’t need to seek God’s approval. God loves you. Period. This passage is all about your starting point. If you start each day thinking that you are lacking something, and you spend all your energy measuring yourself against everyone else, then you are probably going to judge people, get petty, seek vengeance, or get arrogant and selfish. That is a path that leads to violence and destruction.
If, on the other hand, you begin each day knowing that you are loved by God and lack nothing that truly matters–like self-worth–then you can spend your day looking at how you can seek the benefit of others.
I think this is the heart of the Golden Rule found in Matthew 7:12. Jesus didn’t say, “Do to others before they do to you,” or, “Do to others so that they will do to you.” He said, “Do to others as you would want them to do to you.” That attitude sees everyone as equal in God’s eyes. If everyone behaved this way, we wouldn’t need law to govern us, we would be overflowing from the love of God that springs up from inside us and bears sweet fruit in the way we live our lives.
It really is that simple. But, unfortunately, it is the hardest thing for us to do. My prayer for you today is that you would see yourself the way God sees you. Each one of us is a beloved child of God, deserving of loving treatment.
May you walk that narrow road, bear that luscious fruit, and build your house on that solid rock today.