If you’re like me, you seldom read the full text of contracts for online services before you agree to them. They go on for pages, and most of the legal jargon makes no sense to ordinary people like me.
I was quite surprised, therefore, when a friend from Africa made me aware of this one-of-a-kind service agreement for online software. Instead of a wordy license telling people how not to use it, the developer offers a simple blessing urging people to use it for good:
May you do good and not evil. May you find forgiveness for yourself and forgive others. May you share freely, never taking more than you give.
At first I thought, Wow. Imagine if more terms of service agreements were written as blessings instead of legal documents. Then I thought, The agreement Jesus makes with us is like that. He offers us forgiveness of sin, peace with God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. In return, all He asks is that we do good (Gal. 6:10), forgive as we’ve been forgiven (Luke 6:37), and love others as He loves us (John 13:34).
The beauty of Jesus’ agreement with us is that even though we fail to live up to the terms, we still receive the blessing.
Bestowed with benefits daily, Sent from the Father above; Mercies and blessings abounding, Gifts of His marvelous love. —Anon.
As we have opportunity, let us do good to all. —Galatians 6:10
In Luke 6:20-49, Luke recorded a sermon by Jesus that is similar to the sermon recorded in Matthew 5–7. Some scholars believe it was the same sermon, while others say that Jesus taught in two different settings. In Matthew, he taught it “on a mountain” (5:1), while here, Jesus taught these same truths “on a level place” (Luke 6:17).
During the Easter season, my wife and I attended a church service where the participants sought to model the events that Jesus and His disciples experienced on the night before He was crucified. As part of the service, the church staff members washed the feet of some of the church volunteers. As I watched, I wondered which was more humbling in our day—to wash another person’s feet or to have someone else wash yours. Both those who were serving and those being served were presenting distinct pictures of humility.
When Jesus and His disciples were gathered for the Last Supper (John 13:1-20), Jesus, in humble servanthood, washed His disciples’ feet. But Simon Peter resisted, saying, “You shall never wash my feet!” Then Jesus answered, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (13:8). Washing their feet was not a mere ritual. It could also be seen as a picture of our need of Christ’s cleansing—a cleansing that will never be realized unless we are willing to be humble before the Savior.
James wrote, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). We receive God’s grace when we acknowledge the greatness of God, who humbled Himself at the cross (Phil. 2:5-11).
My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine; Now hear me when I pray, take all my sin away, O let me from this day be wholly Thine! —Palmer
The most powerful position on earth is kneeling before the Lord of the universe.
In ancient Israel, the task of foot-washing was necessary because of the open shoes worn in streets filled with dirt and refuse. Because it was such an unpleasant task, it was usually assigned to the lowest servant in the house. Here Jesus Himself performed this menial job (John 13:3-5).
Charles Whittlesey was a hero’s hero. Leader of the so-called “Lost Battalion” in World War I, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery when his unit was trapped behind enemy lines. When the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated, Charles was chosen to serve as pallbearer for the first soldier laid to rest there. Two weeks later, it is presumed that he ended his own life by stepping off a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.
Like Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-7), Charles was publicly strong, but in the quiet, post-public moments, his feelings of despair set in. People today frequently face situations bigger than they can handle. Sometimes it’s temporary despair brought on by fatigue, as in Elijah’s case. He had been part of a great victory over the prophets of Baal (18:20-40), but then he feared for his life and ran into the wilderness (19:1-3). But often, it’s more than despair and it’s more than temporary. That’s why it is imperative that we talk about depression openly and compassionately.
God offers His presence to us in life’s darkest moments, which enables us, in turn, to be His presence to the hurting. Crying out for help—from others and from God—may be the strongest moment of our lives.
Father, grant us the candor to admit to each other that sometimes life overwhelms us. And grant us the courage to help others find help—and to seek it when we need it.
Hope comes with help from God and others.
Elijah, deemed Israel’s greatest prophet, was highly revered and well spoken of by the Jews, by the Lord Jesus Himself, and by the apostles (Matt. 17:10-11; Luke 1:17; Rom. 11:2-4, James 5:17-18). He appeared with Moses at the transfiguration of Jesus (Matt. 17:3). Because Elijah did not die (2 Kings 2:1), the Jews believed he would come back again (Mal. 4:5). Many scholars believe that Elijah will be one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11.