Tag Archives: Humility

Walking around with Ashes

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

The Gospel message for Ash Wednesday is somewhat perplexing in the context of the usual way people observe this day. Perhaps the fashion has fallen out of favor, but when I was a kid it was not uncommon to see people walking about “wearing their ashes,” as Ash Wednesday services were at noon. In many places this is still the case, but wait! How does this square with Jesus telling us to “beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them”?

Does this mean that what we do as Christians should be hid from the world for fear of being like the hypocrites or the Pharisees? Are we never to tell anyone of what we have done for the Lord? Some would certainly say so, but I say No! Doesn’t Jesus tell us in Matthew 5 that a lamp is not lit and put under a basket but rather is put on a lamp stand in order to illuminate the whole house. He tells us that we are to let our light so shine (I say this includes our faith) before others so that they see our good works and give glory to God.

It is all about context. Walking around with ashes on your forehead once a year to show your piety is what Jesus is speaking against in Matthew 6 – showing up to church a few times a year to be seen like some washed-up actor appearing at the Oscar just to say, “Look at ME!”

Jesus wants us to live a life in him all year, exhibit faith and do good works, not for our glory but for God’s If you have been disconnected from the Body of Christ for sometime there is no better time than Lent to come home and begin living for God, rather than self.


Heavenly Father, how foolish we are to think we can be Christian without being part of the body of Christ. How can an arm call itself part of the body without being part of the body. In its detached state it is useless; it will wither and die. By the power of Your Holy Spirit , spark new faith in those who have strayed, or have never believed, so they might live a life for You and for others. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.


One of These Things…

Luke 18:9-14

“One of these things is not like the other. One of these things doesn’t belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the other by the time we finish our song?”

Sesame Street.

Who can remember this song that taught kids how to differentiate between things. In this case Bob and Susan were helping Grover tell the difference in the size of circles.

In the Gospel message from Luke 18, the Pharisee could quite well be singing this song because he was sure that one things (he) was not like the other (the tax collector). But just like our circles, while there may have been some outward differences, there was no substantial difference between the Pharisee and the tax collector. Both were sinners and both needed forgiveness. The major difference, however, was one knew he was sinful and humbled himself and the other did not.

In this respect there is no difference between people. All are sinful and have fallen short of the glory of God. The “saint” needs as much forgiveness as the “sinner” because in the end – as Martin Luther said – we are all simultaneously  “Saint and Sinner.” We are saints because we have been forgiven and made clean by Christ and we are sinners because we fall short of the glory of God and always need His forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, help us to live lives of humility  and help us to recognize our sinful nature and our need for you in all things. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN.