Foundations For Our Future #83
Foundations for Our Future (83)
by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler
When Not If
As we are about to enter the season of Lent, we have come (not by my planning) to the very section of Mathew’s Gospel that will be read on Ash Wednesday. It seems a special gift of grace this year, so let us ponder it carefully.
Remember, the Lord is setting out foundational teaching for his disciples, and he now instructs us about our personal devotional life. What in previous generations would have been called our personal piety, before that word developed negative connotations to many people. The Lord Jesus gives guidance for the times when we give for the needs of others, when we pray, and when we fast. (Matthew 6:2-18)
What we need to notice first of all is this - the Lord says “when” we do these things, not “if” we do them. He presumes that if we are his followers we will be praying people, fasting people, and generously giving people. These are part of the life of one of his disciples.
Jesus begins with the giving of alms “to the needy.” (Matthew 6:2-4) The whole of God’s guidance to Israel includes a continuing emphasis that those who have much are to help those who have little. It is part of the character of God to show pity to the needy, and to shower sinners with mercy. Grace is unmerited. God has freely given to us, and we are to care for those in need.