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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

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Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Psalm 50
Matthew 23:1-12

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"Come now, let us set things right." —Isaiah 1:18

Jesus says: "Avoid the title 'Rabbi,' " "do not call anyone on earth your father," and "avoid being called teachers" (Mt 23:8, 9, 10). Of course, we call priests "fathers," celebrate Father's Day, and call teachers "teachers." But we don't believe we are disobeying God's word. The point Jesus is trying to make is not about the three words, "Rabbi," "father," and "teacher," but about humility. "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, but whoever humbles himself shall be exalted" (Mt 23:12).

The Lord is not interested in changing three words in our vocabulary; rather, He wants to change our hearts, and what we speak from the abundance of our hearts (Lk 6:45). When we speak, are we trying to exalt ourselves, or serve God? Is selfishness the motivation behind our conversation, or is our motivation love? Do we gossip? Do we use the Lord's name in our everyday speech? Do we use His name in vain? Do we mention lust of any sort? (Eph 5:3) Do we "say only the good things men need to hear, things that will really help them"? (Eph 4:29) Do we give Jesus the "silent treatment"? Or do we publicly acknowledge Him as Lord?

Beginning this Lent, let Jesus be Lord of your tongue and in that way control your whole body (Jas 3:2).

Prayer:  Lord, after these first two weeks of Lent, may I see a permanent change in the way I talk.

Promise:  "Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool." —Is 1:18

Praise:  When tempted to make an unkind comment, Lisa remembers God's mercy on her in her past sinfulness and is able to speak words of love instead (see Eph 4:29).

Reference:  (For a related teaching, order our tape on Arrogance on audio AV 52-1 or video V-52.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 3, 2006 & September 18, 2006

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