Blessings and Woes

Read through the Bible in 2 years: Matthew 23

“”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:3-12 ESV

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. …

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. …

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. …

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous,”

– Matthew 23:23, 25, 27, 29 ESV

I’m afraid that sometimes we’ve got our blessings and our woes mixed up. It seems that we’re working for those things that Jesus says “woe to you.” We are focusing our energies on making our outsides look good – posting the perfect pictures and enrolling our kids in the perfect classes, being careful to be seen at church and the PTA meeting – while neglecting the weightier matters of justice and mercy and faithfulness.

Oh, Father, help us to love what You love and hate what You hate. Help us to listen carefully to the words of Jesus to these hypocritical leaders and the words of the prophet, Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21) Give us the strength and wisdom to examine our own hearts and to be diligent to pluck the log out of our own eyes. Help us to remember that our words and actions are the overflow of what’s inside our hearts, so please help us to care more about what’s inside the cup of our heart than what others can see on the outside. We pray this for Your glory and in the powerful name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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