Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trinity 17 Proverbs 25:6-14 The Difficulty in trying to do the Right Thing

Do not act distinguished in the face of the king, and in the place of great men, do not stand; for it is better that one say to you, "Come up here!", than you be humbled in the face of a prince, which your eyes have seen. Do not go forth to contend hastily, otherwise what will you do afterward, when your neighbor disgraces you? Contend your contention with your neighbor, yet a secret of another, do not disclose. Otherwise, the one who hears will despise you, and your rumor not turn away. Oranges of gold in baskets of silver–a word spoken on its circumstances. And earring of gold and an ornament of refined gold–a preacher of wisdom to an ear that listens. As coolness of snow in the day of harvest–a faithful/true messenger to those who sent him; and the soul of his masters he refreshes. Clouds and wind and rain that is not–a man who boasts in a gift of falsehood.

Today's epistle encourages us to *walk* in a manner worthy of those who are called to be Christians. Jesus, in today's Gospel reminds us to be careful where we choose to *sit*. Wise Solomon teaches us to be careful where we *stand*. So whether we are walking, standing or sitting, we had better be "on our toes" figuratively speaking. For where we choose to be and attempt to "fit in" matters. We need to know first "Who we are" so that we will know "Where to be" and "How to act"...

So...just "Who are you?" Well, you know who you aren't. You're not the King. You aren't even the Prince. You probably aren't anybody very great or noble either. You are nobody special that many people would consider you very important. Oh, I know that you like to think that you are a significant someone at times, but truth be told, you are just one of 7 billion who currently reside on planet earth.

But your God didn't choose to let you remain a nobody. Out of your obscurity your heavenly King sent to you the crowned Prince of heaven to live the perfect life on earth that you've failed to do. He became a perfect sacrifice for your sin on the cross, giving His life as the ransom price for a lowly earthling like you. All so that, you would hear His gospel call saying to you, "Come on up here!" to live with Him forevermore in the paradise of heaven! Humble no more, you are now exalted for eternity!

So now you know who you are, a resident of the kingdom of heaven! But now you need to know just where you are to be? Oh, I know you want to be where the popular people go, at times. The bars, the gambling establishments, the stadiums & auditoriums which attract crowds are enticing. And it's ok to go to one of these places on occasion. But if restaurants, sporting events, campgrounds, school activities, and the like are taking up a bulk of your time, perhaps you're in the wrong places too much.

God's Spirit calls you to "Come up here" where He promises to be each Sunday and holiday, in His house called the Church. He gathers you around His word proclaimed, so that your listening ear may hear God's wisdom preached. Your pastor is pledged to be a faithful and true messenger of that Word. He is no hireling who brags about false hope that your itching ears may want to hear. He brings you God's refreshing word of grace, that descends like rain and snow from heaven to comfort your soul.

You know who you are–a resident of heaven. You know where you are to be–in church where God's words are proclaimed. But how are we to act? Well, you know that you shouldn't act pridefully, although you often do. "I'm a really good person" you like to think. But think again. Are you never contentious? Do you never argue with people or try to embarrass them by spreading rumors? You've never revealed someone's secret, or ever thought to look down your nose at those "beneath you"?

Truth be told, we often act in ways that attempt to put others down so that we seem superior. But that's nothing but sin, which is *our* disgrace before God. According to God's Law, when we show disdain or scorn for another person, we fail to love them as we do ourselves, and become law-breakers, worthy of being sent down to the lowest place of all. When we act that way, we aren't acting as those called to be in God's divine presence on Sunday, or in heaven for eternity.

So what does God do with us? Well, He "could" send you down to that lowest of places where you deserve to be. But He doesn't. He humbles you once again, instead. He sends you His Law to convict you of your sin. Then He gives you the right words to say in confession. First you confess your sinfulness to God so that you will agree with God that you don't deserve heaven. Then you confess once more, this time in the words of the Creed, that Jesus was crucified, suffered, died and was buried for you! Then your Savior feeds you with His body and blood for your forgiveness! Exalted!

Hymns for today from LSB:
#398 Hail to the Lord's Anointed
#557 Seek Where Ye May
#698 May we, Thy Precepts, Lord Fulfill

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