Saturday, March 16, 2019

Daily Devotion for Lent 2019 - Day 10

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:1-34 (NRSV)

I think there is a reason Jesus
said to look at the flowers.
Today's reading deals with the popular spiritual disciplines of the first century: alms giving, prayer and fasting.  Jesus reminds us that we should follow these practices with the right mindset.  The proper outlook is to put God first in our lives - even ahead of our worries.

Through each of the three activities, Jesus reminds us to keep our disciplines between us and God.  The temptation is to try to impress our fellows by showing them how pious we really are.  When we do this, we lose our focus and the self takes over.  Our vanity becomes our true object of devotion.

Jesus mentions this when he talks about the eye being the lamp of the body.  When our eye is on God, we are full of light.  When our eye is on ourselves, our own wants become needs and grow larger in priority.  This is why we cannot serve two masters.

The focus must stay on God.

Jesus knows this is not easy.  Our lives are full of distractions such as what people think of us, our possessions, our clothing and our future.

I would argue that some of these are necessary to the human condition.  If we never worried about what people thought about or our clothing, we might wear some pretty strange things to work or school.  This would obviously be problematic for our regular interactions and would interfere with our effectiveness!

What I think Jesus is moving us toward is the prioritization of God over all these things.  If God is primary and these things are subservient, it becomes easy not to worry as often or to think about how others should see how good we are being.  Our trust becomes primary and this is helpful for us in all stages of life.

Think about something that is troubling you.  Examine it through the lens of prayer.  Breathe in and breathe out.  While placing our problems next to the light of God may not make them dissolve, it might allow us to see them in a way that it doesn't loom quite so large.

Prayer for the day:

God, we would like to imagine that we don't mind what others think about us.
We would like to set possessions and wealth aside as unimportant.
We would like to never worry about what comes or what may come.
But we know that these things are a part of our lives.
And so we ask that you help us to lessen their importance that you might increase.
In this may our eyes become healthy.

Photo by Rosmarie Voegtli via  Used under the Creative Commons license.

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