Archive for July 16th, 2007

My Tattoo

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Today’s scripture: John 7:1-24 (NIV) (NKJV)

As you read, consider these questions: What might God be saying to me in this passage? What jumps out at me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (Julie Benson):

It is cited on my license plate. It is the root of my e-mail address. It is prominent in my online profile. It even appeared in a fortune cookie I opened from a Chinese restaurant years ago. It’s my little life mantra from John 7:24 — “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” An ironic quote for a woman with pink and purple hair, right? For the record, I chose this passage in high school when I was sporting my “natural” hair color — a confession I will not disclose in this forum.

John 7:24 also sounds a little preachy, doesn’t it? How do I get off telling the world what they need to do? Sure, it’s nice to see people from my rear-view mirror pointing at my license plate. I’ve become a good lip-reader, able to distinguish common remarks like, “It must be from the Bible.” And, of course, I hope that they will gain a little insight of their own when they flip open the pages of scripture. Honestly, though, this passage serves as a reminder for me more than for anyone else. I need to hear it over and over so I’ve tattooed it on my heart.

The story in John 7 begins by explaining how Jesus intentionally avoids creating a public display in Judea. However, out of respect for the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles, (the harvest festival memorializing the redemption of Israel from slavery) Jesus follows behind in private. Midway through the festival, Jesus begins teaching; but when questioned about His authority, Jesus claims to be not just another rabbi, but a prophet whose teaching comes from God. Jesus then spells out the alternative in verse 18: “He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself.”

Jesus then addresses his opponents who misunderstand the commandment about keeping the law on the Sabbath. Jesus explains that saving lives and expressing God’s Spirit of love and mercy by doing good should take precedence over the letter of the law. He then concludes that the way we see the world should be through God’s eyes and not our own. Righteous judgment means that we seek God’s will and God’s truth in everything, putting our own prejudices and preconceptions aside.

It is easy for me to think that I can quickly sum a person up by an external appearance, by an off-the-cuff remark, or even by more regular encounters that lead me deeper into a person’s personality. John 7:24 reminds me that I must not judge by any outward or superficial judgments, but by God’s worth and by the gifts and graces of God’s spirit in them. I also apply John 7:24 to the circumstances of daily life by sacrificing my own desired outcomes, and seeking and trusting instead in God’s will.

Thought for the day: I will focus on seeing the people around me through God’s eyes, and not through my own.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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