Friday, December 30, 2016

December 30, 2016


1 Kingdoms 15:22 (1 Samuel 15:22 LXX)

Then Samuel said, "If only the desired whole burnt offerings and desired sacrifices were equal to the Lord, as compared to one who heeds the voice of the Lord! Behold! Hearing is better than a good sacrifice and obedience than the fat of rams."

Personal Challenge

One of the things that we must always watch out for as we live our lives as Christians is becoming legalistic and works based. Samuel reminds us here, as does other writers in the Old Testament, that God is not nearly as interested in what we do externally, such as burnt offerings in his day as He is in our hearts and our willingness to serve Him. In Eastern Orthodoxy, we have many opportunities to participate in activities that from the outside look like works. One of these is fasting. It is so easy to start acting legalistic and judgemental of others on whether or not they fast, or how well they fast. This is not how this is supposed to work. We do not fast to earn favor with God. We do not fast to look good in front of everyone else. We quietly fast to learn how to discipline our minds and bodies. The church fathers consistently taught that we are not to look at our brother's plate and only consider how we are doing on our journey toward being like Christ. They also taught that loving our neighbor was more important than any rule that we follow so if they offer us something to eat that might cause us to break our fast, then we take it out of love for our neighbor. Love is above all. This way of thinking applies to all of our attempts to be disciplined whether it be fasting, tithing, attending liturgy, praying, or a myriad of other things we do in our Christian life. What is in our heart is much more important than what we say or do. When we live this way what we do will clearly show our love for our God and for our neighbor. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

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