You know what the Bible says.

Mrs. Black was the receptionist at the office where I first worked. She was older, though I realize that she was probably younger than I am now.

Sometimes in those informal conversations that happen in offices, you know, the ones where there is a little bit of gossip, a little bit of opinion, Mrs. Black would say, “Well, you know what the Bible says.”

It was an appropriate response coming from the wife of a local pastor.

Except she always stopped there. We waited for the application, for the lesson.

What DID the Bible say?

She never said. Mrs. Black was having fun with us.

But on a morning when we read lots of Scripture (Isaiah 58, 1 Corinthians 2, Matthew 5:13-20), I think about her statement. “You know what the Bible says,” doesn’t feel exactly clear. What are we supposed to do with all the words that we heard this morning?

I think that if I had to pick a sentence to sum up a theme in the readings today, it is this.

 In the choices that you make today, choose love. Don’t choose impressing.

Impressing God, impressing others, impressing ourselves.

If our intention is impressing, we will always be thinking about appearances. How does that look? What will they think? Will this be good enough?

And we think about how things appear to the person with the most power to affect our situations. Our current situation. Our feelings right now.

There were some people talked about in Isaiah who wanted to impress God.

They looked through the rules God had given and found a rule about fasting. About giving up food for some period of time. And so they kept the rule about fasting, going without food for the prescribed period of time.

But it made them cranky. And they took this crankiness out on the people around them. The people who worked for them. The people who came to them for help. They were hangry.

What they missed, because they were worried about impressing God, about technically keeping the rules, is that this rule about fasting is not more important than that rule about loving God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.


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