Posted by: Pauline | July 23, 2017

Scriptures for Sunday July 30

Psalm 128

Some people may be uncomfortable with this psalm because it sounds a bit like the so-called “prosperity gospel” – obey God and you’ll be rewarded with lots of good stuff. But this psalm is not talking about getting rich. Eating the fruit of one’s labor means working hard and that work yielding enough to provide for oneself and one’s family (as opposed to facing ruin due to crop failure, bandits, or seizure of property due to unjust laws). It is true that sometimes disasters happen to faithful Christians, but like many passages in the Psalms and Proverbs, this presents a general principle, not a promise that it will always be that way.

Most of the blessings described here are not even material things but family. This is what the faithful man works for – not to get things but to take care of his family. He finds his joy in his wife and children, and eventually grandchildren. Even those who do not have these particular family blessings generally find that God’s greatest blessings come through relationships with others, not from wealth or accomplishments.

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Since the disciples claimed to have understood these parables, we don’t get the benefit of Jesus’ explanation of what they mean. We can be pretty sure, though, that these brief characterizations of the kingdom of heaven challenged people’s assumptions about God’s kingdom. Many people expected a kingdom established by force, its rulers and army very visible, but Jesus described a kingdom that grew nearly unseen and in unconventional ways. Traditional kingdoms often grew into empires as kings sought to increase their power and wealth. But in the kingdom of heaven, one gives up everything else in order to obtain it.

Whether Jesus’ hearers understood clearly or not, they must have understood at least that there was a lot they did not understand, that they had to give up old attitudes and learn from Jesus a new way to think about God and His rule.

 

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