S (Scripture): Ezekiel 18: 14 But suppose [a person] has a child who sees all the sins that his father committed. He becomes alarmed and doesn’t do them. 15 He doesn’t eat on the mountains or pay attention to the idols of the house of Israel. He doesn’t defile his neighbor’s wife. 16 He doesn’t cheat anyone, either by seizing collateral for loans or committing robbery. He gives his food to the hungry and clothes to the naked. 17 He refrains from oppressing the poor by taking neither interest nor profit. He observes my case laws and follows my regulations. He won’t die because of his father’s guilt. He will surely live. 18 As for his father: If he exploited the weak or committed robbery, or did anything else that wasn’t good for the people, he will die because of his own guilt.
O (Observation): Physical death awaits us all, but in this life, Ezekiel points out that true life exists in looking to serve the interests of others, and not just one’s own interests. Ezekiel is sharing God’s message about sins not necessarily being visited upon sons and daughters simply by default.
Rather, God is opening up the minds of God’s people to realize that one is not defined by one’s parents – or one’s own past, even. Rather, one might have one’s eyes opened to see that – all around us – people need to be fed and clothed. Acting on those needs brings life to the recipients of that food and clothing, and in return, new life is brought to the person who gives to others.
Funny how “giving away” actually brings the new life promised by God.
A (Application): Pretty soon, a group of white supremacists will rally at the courthouse square to raise their message of disdain against immigrants and all people of color. They have already shared flyers in the campus of Middle TN State University to recruit more to these bigoted groups.
The vision is bleak for this town, when people see this stuff. And yet, hope remains.
We repudiate the words and actions of any group showing hate for another. We will engage in a nonviolent response, in an alternate physical location. And we will show love and care for our neighbors. And we will share a vision of a future that is colorful, where cultures will learn from one another…and maybe we will catch a glimpse of the Kingdom!
Our past does not define us. Jesus made sure of that by taking on and overcoming our sins – once and for all! A shared vision of the future will bring many of us together…a future that includes being kind to one another, regardless of skin color, nation of origin, or language. This is Jesus’ way.
God always keeps open the door to loving our neighbor. And feeds us so that we can keep on feeding others for the rest of our days.
Is your past holding you back? If so, be free today, in Jesus’ name! Shake off that burden by seeking forgiveness. Then go…and feed a need in your community today.
P (Prayer): Lord, we thank you for setting us free to go and serve our neighbor in need. Amen.