Do you prefer to receive gifts or give gifts? The older I get the more I enjoy giving. But aside from gifts, I love to give my time and experiences that will make a lasting memory. For gifts are often set aside and ignored. I can remember many a Christmas morning when the children would spend hours playing with new toys only to several days later see those same toys left abandoned in the corner.
Paul is warning us to be careful not to ignore God’s gift to us. God’s kindness, to me, is referring to his grace, mercy, and unfailing love for us. We don’t deserve such splendid gifts. We are sinners. We are selfish beings focused on instant gratification and being served. Many will take for granted this beautiful gift. Have we left it abandoned in the corner?
Did you picture a movie scene with one car in hot pursuit of another? Screeching tires and dust billowing all over?! There is no question, you see a definite intention to catch up with the other vehicle. It’s not just for fun, it’s serious. Or perhaps you thought of some of your own pursuits, a college degree, a career, wealth, fame.
Solomon has some great wisdom for us in verse 21. He says, “Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.” Have you ever thought about pursuing righteousness or unfailing love? In some translations, unfailing love is referred to as loyalty. As I understand it, the word used for “pursue” here is stronger and more intentional than just a whim or something we’d “like” to have. We are to chase or follow, full of energy and definite intention. We are not to just search for but to conquer and overtake. This is serious business. Why righteousness and unfailing love?
John is focused on relationships, particularly our relationship with God. When he says “know” he is focusing on more than just our “head knowledge.” He wants us to dig deeper. What do we “know” of God through listening for his voice, reading his word and letting it permeate our being, watching his creation unfold before our eyes? How has the life of Jesus and how he lived impacted us and how we want to live?
John reminds us here of an old commandment, but he’s bringing a fresh, new twist to it. We are to love one another. That’s the old law, and you will recall Jesus also spoke of it (John 13:34) as a new commandment. Loving God is of course always #1, but how we treat each other is of utmost importance, too. What’s John’s twist?
We’re pretty excited because we have a wedding in our family coming up next Spring. The “Save the Date” notices have gone out. That’s an old tradition that has been catching on again in recent years. I’m guessing that’s what was happening in today’s reading. The wedding feast day had arrived, and those who had received the “save the date” notices had decided other things were more important. Life happens and sometimes gets in the way of our plans. Their decision to ignore the invitation resulted in their not being worthy or deserving of the honor any longer.
Because Jesus is using this as an illustration of the Kingdom of God, we should take note to understand. Especially if we want to have an invitation to that wedding feast ourselves. Are we going to respond with indifference figuring our attendance doesn’t really make any difference, or are we going to be ready to drop everything at the last minute and dress up in our finest clothes and be ready?
I love it when Jesus uses parables to convey his intention or direction for our lives. This one is really something. After talking about how to handle it when someone sins against us in our last text , Peter rightfully asks the question, “How many times should we forgive?”
What was Jesus response? 70×7. 490 times! I’m not sure who would even keep track. That was just a crazy amount to show us we need to forgive. Period. We shouldn’t try to quantify it or keep score. Then Jesus told the story.