My scripture today comes from Mark :14-29
Today’s Lesson is a warning to all Christians….Be Careful
My granny Prophitt was fond of saying, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” --- I used to think she made this up…that is until I went to college and I read William Shakespeare and discovered she wasn’t a philosopher after all. She was just quoting Shakespeare. Regardless, the words are true no matter who wrote them. It is really sad when you see someone completely trapped in the web of sin of their own making. After reading this story about Herod, I think of that saying because he was attempting to deceive others and himself. In this situation, Herod had 2 choices. His first choice was: He could please his wife, Herodias and put an end to John’s humiliating assault on her and on their relationship. To do this he would have to kill the very man he had imprisoned for protection. Herod’s other choice was to do what was right by putting an end to his sinful relationship with his niece/sister-in-law/wife, Herodias. By imprisoning John, he was hoping to find another solution to the problem. However, instead of giving up his sinful relationship, he looked for another way. You know when confronted by sin in our lives, don’t we do the same? Maybe it’s sinful thoughts, indulgence, or habit. Maybe its gossip, greed or gluttony. We, like Herod, look for any other solution before we are willing to give up our sinful ways. Be careful!
Another of Granny Prophitt’s sayings was, “Be careful what words you use, you might have to eat them someday.” We’ve all said things we’ve regretted later. Things like: “Of course I love you. The check’s in the mail. This won’t hurt a bit. It wasn’t my fault. God, if you give me this I’ll never ask for anything again.” Herod discovered the problem with spouting platitudes and empty promises. They can have serious consequences. He promised something that wasn’t even his to give. He didn’t have a kingdom. But that did not stop him from promising one. How like Herod we are…we will rush into empty commitments, make shallow promises, strike bargains we have no intention of keeping. A child asks you to do something for them and your answer was, “In a minute.” You really want to say, “I’m busy. Go away.” Be careful.
All of these empty promises and unmet commitments lead us into experiencing great stress and pressure. Sound familiar? I know it sounds like some things in my own life. Several years ago…two ladies of Rock Mills began a ministry of providing the refreshments for Traylor’s July birthday party. It was only one day…once a year. No one knew….One of the ladies died…and when July rolled around the other lady called me and told me about what WE were to do. No problem. I got the refreshments, picked up the lady, and delivered on her promise. That was four years ago. I have done it every year since. I don’t mind…I actually enjoy it….once I get there….but it is that time leading up to that Friday in July that I feel the urge to make it an unmet commitment. I deal with God…I did not make this commitment….why do I have to fulfil it…..and by the time the day rolls around….I go….and my heart is blessed….but what if I didn’t. A husband once said, “My wife is never satisfied. Whatever I do, no matter how much money I make, it is never enough. Life with her is like living in a pressure cooker with the lid sealed shut and the heat on high.” --- A secretary once said to me pointing to her phone, “That little black thing is driving me crazy. At the other end are people who make impossible demands and think they are the only people in the world with a problem.” In verse 26 of today’s scripture we are shown tangled in human relationships and people-pressure a person can become and can be pushed into doing something they really don’t want to do. --- Herod thinks more of the drunken oath he has made and his honor before his assembled guests than he does the life of John. How sad is that? But they were not the only people there that night…What about those guests? They could have stopped Herod from making a fool of himself. But….No one spoke up. NO ONE! The remained silent in the face of something they knew was morally wrong. --- How often have we done the same. How often have we been a situation with family, friends, work….that we KNEW was morally wrong….and we said nothing! What about when Madolyn O’Hare had prayer taken out of school. She was ONE woman, but she was not alone. The effort to take prayers out of school began several years before. She just lit the spark. But it doesn’t matter who did it…what matters is…. Look at what we sat back in silence and let happen. Be careful!
The lyrics to one of my favorite song deals with Being Careful. To me they are sad lyrics. They are sad because of the message they hold. We as Christians never know who is watching us….mimicking us….following us….The song I am referring to is called "Slow Fade" by Casting Crowns. I would like for you to listen to these words….carefully. Often we have been lukewarm Christians when what the world really needs is for us to be people who respond to the call of God rather than to the pressures of other people or of the world. Jesus knew what it was to endure the pressures of people. Jesus always sought the will of His heavenly Father and did it. He never worried about what people thought. He knew his mission was to do God’s will. That was not his top priority; but his only one. As Christians in today’s stressful, pressure-filled world we must be careful to always do God’s will following in the example of Christ Jesus.