emilynisch

Water the disciples

In Christianity on April 11, 2009 at 9:08 pm

The verse “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Mat 10:16) was on my mind today, so I searched for it on biblegateway.com and found out that it’s in Matthew, Chapter 10. The entire chapter surprised me, and I began to realized that there is a lot of meat in it, some of which I often hear talked about in a way I’m not comfortable with.

Matthew 10 has to do with belief. Other ways of defining the theme might be:  “us and them” or “choose your side” or “you’re on a side, so show it.” (As in James 2:18 – “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”)

Today I want to talk about verses 40-42 which include the well-know verse that people quote as: if you give someone even a glass of water you’ll be rewarded; or sometimes: if you give someone even a glass of water in my name you’ll be rewarded. This is used to explain why it’s good, period, to do charity work. They are saying: Anyone can help people, and should, and even if they’re not acknowledging Jesus when they do it, he’ll still reward them and is glad they’re helping. And perhaps there’s some truth to that, but its not what the verses area saying.

Let’s look at what the verse actually says: And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” Jesus promises a reward because the water-giver gives it to Jesus’ disciple, not because the water is given.

The verse before confirms it:

  • “Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward…”
  • “…anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.”

What’s the point? It’s what all of Matthew 10 is about: belief. When you give water to a disciple, or receive a righteous man or a prophet because he’s one of those things, in that moment you’re saying, ” I believe that there is such a thing as righteousness (and therefore also that it’s possible to be unrighteous)” or “I believe that Jesus is real and he speaks to us through prophets” or “I affirm your following of Jesus and out of respect to him, etc. I will serve you with even this small thing of a glass of water.”

Jesus sums it up: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.” (Mat 10:40)

In a way, these verses aren’t about serving each other. They’re about saying what you believe in and what you’re living for. Just as a prophet or righteous man is rewarded for his faith in God to enable him to prophesy or be righteous, Jesus recognizes the same faith is at work when you welcome one of those prophets or righteous men. And we’re rewarded for our faith and it’s being acted out – whether that means prophesying or welcome a prophet.

What can we draw from this new reading of these verses? For one, it’s good to serve other believers, welcome them into our home, etc. because they’re doing God’s work. If we do this we’ll increase whatever other people in our churches are doing, as well as encouraging them and ourselves. And, Jesus particularly notices it.

Sometimes serving other Christians because of the work they’re doing, and with a mind to advance it can fall by the wayside, but Jesus says it’s a very real and profitable part of being a Christian and acting out your faith in him (which pleases him, other Christians, and probably yourself). 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