My starting point is not with today’s two readings but with some of yesterday’s readings. I hope you had a chance to read Psalm 100. A short five verses. I trust you had a chance to worship with us yesterday too. All services continued their sermon series on God’s Love and at Celebrate at 8 and 10am these were titled Lavish Love . In one of these services the first reading was Hannah’s Prayer from 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and in both services the core sermon passage was from 1 John 2:28 – 3:10, which is titled God’s children and sin.
Some times we are confronted by today’s two FDR readings in a way which may not be helpful. The Proverbs reading is simply titled A Warning against Adultery and the Galatians reading has two titles Freedom in Christ and Life by the Spirit.
Yet seen in the more complete light of the three readings from yesterday and the sermon it is clear there is no other choice for us. That is to live in the light of Christ. Always.
Psalm 100, titled A Psalm. For giving grateful praise. and Hannah’s Prayer are about worshipping the God who provides enough for us. The God who not only meets out His lavish love and horrible judgement. But in the New Testament sense, provides His Own as our advocate and as the One who stands in our judgement place for all we have done, do and will do in disobedience to God’s will for us.
So in this context the Proverbs passage (A Warning against Adultery) is a series of serious directions about our behaviour. Although the wording is strongly against men making a decision, in some form, to be attracted to and have an adulterous relationship with a woman, it is not reasonable to claim that this passage does not apply to women. Not when read in the broader context of the whole Bible’s treatment of us all as children of God. Yet we can often read this passage and others like it without taking time to see it as something we may need to do to modify our behaviour.
When we read the Galatians passage (Freedom in Christ and Life by the Spirit) verse 6b “. . .The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”. and verse 14 “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.“ make two core points. While the contained discussion is about not following only one branch of teaching and living life in the Spirit this passage seeks to draw us back to the broader picture.
A picture in which three extra passages from yesterday help us to see that these words of wisdom, in Proverbs and Galatians, are for our protection. For us to heed and modify our behaviour so as not to draw apart from our God who lavishes His love on us.
But there is more, as there often is for the Christian seeking to go further with Christ and our brothers and sisters.
We have a responsibility to not only look after ourselves in these and other matters but we also have a responsibility to walk with our fellow Christians, brother with brother and sister with sister, to assist each other to avoid the traps of temptation and to guide us back onto the path God has for us. So that at the last day we may stand before God, who will be our judge, not embarrassed nor ashamed, because we sinned repeatedly without turning back to Him. Nor for our failure to seek to help our brother or sister who had fallen.
But when we took a path into sin, or even contemplated it, we pulled up short. Returning to God’s way. Or noticing our Christian brother or sister, we men put an arm on our brother’s shoulder, or we women put an arm around our sister’s waist, and actively sought to assist them back to God’s way and supported them in doing so.
A Prayer – May we, in God’s lavish love, keep walking in His ways, seeking His forgiveness when we give in to temptation and then go on resisting sin. May we, in God’s lavish love, walk with and support others who are struggling, and where we are allowed support them to keep resisting sin. We ask these things in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.