Drinking Deeply

Friday, March 19, 2010 at 12:28 PM

FighterArc: Matthew 5:23-24

Another post in the series begun on fighter verses. For more information on fighter verses see here.

If you want more information on arcing, see here.

Here's my arc, and a short reflection:

Main point: We ought to be reconciled to our brother, even if that means leaving our gift before the altar.

Arcing commentary -

v.23 and 24 give us a very clear "If-Then" so they are the major arcs of the two verses - If you are offering and remember your brother has something against you, then leave your gift and be reconciled.

v.23 has two main points: You are offering and remember your brother has something against you. These two ideas could be joined with "S" - Series, but series typically should be reserved for when you state multiple events with no dependence.

In this sentence, there is a progression: First you're offering, and there "you remember your brother has something against you." That means the second idea depends on the first already happening, so I use P.

There is locative relationship in v.23 "before the altar." It serves to highlight that it's there before the altar that this happens. Even right before you're about to offer a sacrifice to God you ought to be reconciled.

v.24 has two main ideas, so they go under major arcs - "Leave gift and go; first be reconciled then come and offer." Both contain progression relationships - First one, then the other.

The tricky piece, "how are these two arcs in v.24 related?" The arcs essentially restate one another, saying the same thing in two different ways, but the second one gives a more detailed account and further explains the first. That means we have either "Id-Exp" or "Ac-Mn." Id-Exp would mean that the second sentence explains one of the ideas (nouns) listed in the first. Ac-Mn means that the second sentence explains one of the actions (verbs) of the first. Since we Jesus is explaining more about what "leave and go" mean, we ought to use Ac-Mn.

Passage commentary -

Jesus has just said that not only is the brother who murders liable to judgment, the brother who is angry with another is liable to judgment (v.21-22). Then he proceeds to give one application of what this means - we ought to be reconciled to one another. Jesus does this by giving the most extreme example.

Even when we are just about to offer a gift before God and remember our brother has something against us, we should leave our gift there and be reconciled first. While at first this seems like it doesn't follow from what was said before (what's known in logic as a non-sequitur), it actually does because Jesus is highlighting how serious anger is. Anger and it's consequences are so serious we ought to go out of our way to keep someone from sinning in that way.

Jesus does not allow the possibility that we can stand innocently by while others get angry at us, we must go and be reconciled. It is insufficient to say, "well, at least I am not angry at anyone," we ought to think and ask, "is anyone angry at me?"

So, Christian - Go and be reconciled. Do it now and today, lest you find yourself about to offer a gift to the Lord and there remember and have to do it then.


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Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Fix your eyes upon Jesus

Hebrews 12:1-2
12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Being as I am now approaching 14 days past the beginning of my marriage, I had a thought that I'd share with my past self if I could travel back in time. In addition to witnessing the creation of the world, the flood and the building of the ark, and probably stopping by to say hi to Martin Luther and thank him for all his great work, I'd like to tap my 21-year-old self on the shoulder and tell him a few things.

One of them being this -

A man walking through a desert while making steady progress toward an oasis will likely not be tempted too much to take a drink from flowing sewage along his path.

In your struggles with singleness and all the corresponding challenges with the sexuality of the world - man up and take steps toward marriage. Don't just sit there, lamenting the fact that you're still single, but think carefully about next steps on that journey. You've done a fairly decent job (by God's grace) of growing and building a good theological foundation about dating and courtship, but you haven't given a thought toward actually stepping in that direction. The temptation to stray in purity will always come hard and fast, but they will loosen their grip as you take deliberate steps towards a destination.


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Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 10:19 AM

Hard pressed saints

A nugget from Edwards in his "Images of Divine Things"
The way in which most of the things we use are serviceable to us and answer to their end is in their being strained, or hard-pressed, or violently agitated. Thus the way in which the bow answers its end is in hard straining of it to shoot the arrow and do the execution; the bow that won't bear straining is good for nothing. So it is with a staff that a man walks with: it answers its end in being hard-pressed. So it is with many of the members of our bodies, our teeth, our feet, etc.; and so with most of the utensils of life, an ax, a saw, a flail, a rope, a chain, etc. They are useful and answer their end by some violent straining, pressure, agitation, collision or impulsion, and they that are so weak not to bear the trial of such usage are good for nothing.

Here is a lively representation of the way in which true and sincere saints (which are often in Scripture represented as God's instruments or utensils) answer God's end, and serve and glorify him in it: by enduring temptation, going through hard labor, suffering, or self-denial or such service or strainings hard upon nature and self. Hypocrites are like a broken tooth, a foot out of joint, a broken staff, a deceitful bow, which fail when pressed or strained.
What a wonderful encouragement to bruised reeds and smoldering candles! Take heart and do not fear!

2 Cor. 1
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.


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Tuesday, March 09, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Fighterarc:Matthew 5:21-22

Another post in the series begun on fighter verses. For more information on fighter verses see here.

If you want more information on arcing, see here.

Here's my arc with a short reflection.

Properly applying the law: Murder -

Jesus introduces the proper applications of the law that he talked about in the previous verses (v.17-20). Rather than overthrowing the OT law, he is properly interpreting it. We see this most clearly from two facts:

1) He does not begin, "it is written," but rather "you have heard." Elsewhere he points to Scripture with, "it is written." (Matthew 4, Matthew 21:13)

2) He doesn't say anything the Old Testament doesn't already state. Leviticus 19:17 - "You shall not hate your brother in your heart."

Given that, we are affirmed in believing that instead of overthrowing the Law of the Bible, he is properly interpreting it.

A plausible conjecture is that the teachers of the law were saying that as long as you didn't actually commit murder, you weren't guilty of breaking the law. You could insult them and hate them, but they were not guilty of murder.

In a complete rejection of that interpretation, Jesus says, "but I say to you... To even hate your brother meant you were guilty of murder. To insult them meant you were liable to the council, to call them a fool meant you were in danger of the fires of hell." To Jesus, and to God's people, there should not be a line drawn between the physical act of murder and the spiritual inclination to it.

God doesn't just want our external actions. Just because I haven't committed the physical act of murder doesn't mean that I was innocent. Like the scribes and pharisees, my danger is to interpret the law by the letter and let myself off the hook. That's not what God commands - he doesn't want just the action, but the heart also.


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