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Uncovered Sins

By |2024-07-12T02:33:26-04:00July 12th, 2024|

A thief broke into a phone repair shop, smashed the glass of a display case, and began pocketing phones and more. He tried to conceal his identity from the surveillance camera by covering his head with a cardboard box. But during the burglary, the box briefly tipped, uncovering his face. Minutes later, the store owner saw the video footage of the robbery, called the police, and they arrested the robber outside a nearby store. His story reminds us that every hidden sin will be uncovered one day.

It's human nature to try to hide our sins. But in Ecclesiastes we read that we should keep God’s commandments for every hidden thing will be brought before His righteous gaze and just verdict (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The author wrote, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (v. 13). Even the hidden things which the Ten Commandments rebuked (Leviticus 4:13) won’t escape His evaluation. He’ll bring every deed into judgment, whether good or evil. But, because of His grace, we can find forgiveness for our sins in Jesus and His sacrifice on our behalf (Ephesians 2:4-5).

When we’re conscious of and internalize His commandments, it can lead to a reverent fear of Him and a lifestyle to match. Let’s bring our sins to Him and experience anew His loving, forgiving heart.

Master in Heaven

By |2024-03-19T02:33:08-04:00March 19th, 2024|

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower announced in 2022 that all migrant domestic workers must be given at least one rest day a month that employers couldn’t compensate them for instead of giving them the day off. Employers, however, were concerned they wouldn’t have someone to care for their loved ones on those days. While the logistics of caregiving could be solved by making alternative arrangements, their attitude in not seeing the need for rest wasn’t as easy to solve.

Treating others considerately isn’t a new issue. The apostle Paul lived in a time where servants were seen as the property of their masters. Yet, in the last line of his instructions to the church on how Christlike households should operate, he says that masters are to treat their servants “justly” (Colossians 4:1 esv). Another translation says, “Be fair with them” (the message).

Just as Paul tells the servants to work “for the Lord, not for human masters” (3:23), he reminds the masters also of Jesus’ authority over them: “you also have a Master in heaven” (4:1). His purpose was to encourage the Colossian believers to live as those whose ultimate authority is Christ. In our interaction with others—whether as an employer, employee, in our homes or communities—we can ask God to help us do what’s “right and fair” (v. 1).

Courage in Christ

By |2024-03-12T02:33:27-04:00March 12th, 2024|

Near the dawn of the nineteenth century, Mary McDowell lived worlds apart from the brutal stockyards of Chicago. Although her home was just twenty miles away, she knew little about the horrific labor conditions that prompted workers in the stockyards to strike. Once she learned of the difficulties faced by them and their families, McDowell moved in and lived amid them—advocating for better conditions. She ministered to their needs, including teaching children at a school in the back of a small shop.

Standing up for better conditions for others—even when not directly impacted—is something Esther did as well. She was the queen of Persia (Esther 2:17) and had a different set of privileges than her Israelite people who’d been dispersed throughout Persia as exiles. Yet Esther took up the cause of the Israelites in Persia and risked her life for them, saying, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (4:16). She could have remained silent, for her husband, the king, didn’t know she was Jewish (2:10).  But, choosing not to ignore her relatives’ pleas for help, she worked wisely and courageously to reveal an evil plot to destroy the Jews.

We may not be able to take on massive causes like Mary McDowell and Queen Esther, but may we choose to see the needs of others around us and use what God has provided to help them.

Smartphone Compassion

By |2023-10-30T02:33:15-04:00October 30th, 2023|

Was the driver late with your food? You can use your phone to give him a one-star rating. Did the shopkeeper treat you curtly? You can write her a critical review. While smartphones enable us to shop, keep up with friends, and more, they have also given us the power to publicly rate each other. And this can be a problem.

Rating each other this way is problematic because judgments can be made without context. The driver gets rated poorly for a late delivery due to circumstances out of his control. The shopkeeper gets a negative review when she’d been up all night with a sick child. How can we avoid  rating others unfairly like this?

By imitating God’s character. In Exodus 34:5–7, God describes Himself as “compassionate and gracious”—meaning He wouldn’t judge our failures without context; “slow to anger”—meaning He wouldn’t post a negative review after one bad experience; “abounding in love”—meaning His correctives are for our good, not to get revenge; and “forgiving [of] sin”—meaning our lives don’t have to be defined by our one-star days. Since God’s character is to be the basis of ours (Ephesians 5:1), we can avoid the harshness smartphones enable by using ours as He would.

In the online age, we can all rate others harshly. May the Holy Spirit empower us to bring a little compassion today.

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