Piety, Real and False (Part 2)
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" Read more
This passage confronts us with certain essential truths that we forget at our peril.
(1) Christianity does not consist of rules and regulations. To take the matter in question-Sunday observance is important but there is a great deal more to religion than Sunday observance. If a man might become a Christian simply by abstaining from work and pleasure on Sunday, and by attending church on that day, and saying his prayers and reading his Bible, being a Christian would be a very easy thing. Whenever people forget the love, forgiveness, the service and the mercy that are at the heart of Christianity and replace them by the performance of rules and regulations, Christianity is in decline.
(2) The first claim on any man is the claim of human need. Even the catechisms and the confessions admit that works of necessity and mercy are quite legal on the Sabbath. If ever the performance of a person's religion stops him from helping someone who is in need, his religion is not a religion at all. People matter far more than systems. Persons are far more important than rituals. The best way to worship God is to help people.
(3) The best way to use sacred things is to use them to help people. That, in fact, is the only way to give them to God. One of the loveliest of all stories is that of The Fourth Wise Man. His name was Artaban. He set out to follow the star taking with him as gifts for the King a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl beyond price. He was riding hard to meet his three friends, Casper, Melchior, and Balthasar, at the agreed place. The time was short; they would leave if he was late. Suddenly, he saw a dim figure on the ground before him. It was a traveler stricken with fever. If he stayed to help, he would miss his friends. He did stay; he helped and healed the man. But now he was alone. He needed camels and bearers to help him across the desert because he had missed his friends and their caravan. He had to sell his sapphire to get them and he was sad because the King would never have his gem.
He journeyed on and in due time came to Bethlehem, but again he was too late. Joseph, Mary, and the baby had left. Then there came the soldiers to carry out Herod's command that the children should be slain. Artaban was in a house where there was a little child. The tramp of the soldiers came to the door; the weeping of stricken mothers could be heard. Artaban stood in the doorway, tall and dark, with the ruby in his hand and bribed the captain not to enter. The child was saved; the mother was overjoyed, but the ruby was gone and Artaban was sad because the King would never have his ruby.
My Life Application
What have you learned from this story? I hope you have been reminded of what is really important to God and, if necessary, make changes in your life to please Him.
My Prayer and Praise
"Oh, God, it is so wonderful to learn what really pleases You. Help me now to keep my concentration on You. I want to please You with the rest of my life."