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Sermon for Sunday 10 July 2016

FIRST READING Leviticus 18:1-5, 19:9-18

1And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the Lord your God. 3You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. 4You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the Lord your God. 5You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord. 9“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God. 11You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. 12You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 13You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. 15You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord. 17You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.


PSALM Psalm 41

1 Happy are they who consider the poor and needy! the Lord will deliver them in the time of trouble. 2 The Lord preserves them and keeps them alive, so that they may be happy in the land; he does not hand them over to the will of their enemies. 3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and ministers to them in their illness. 4 I said, “Lord, be merciful to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.” 5 My enemies are saying wicked things about me: “When will he die, and his name perish?” 6 Even if they come to see me, they speak empty words; their heart collects false rumors; they go outside and spread them. 7 All my enemies whisper together about me and devise evil against me. 8 “A deadly thing,” they say, “has fastened on him; he has taken to his bed and will never get up again.” 9 Even my best friend, whom I trusted, who broke bread with me, has lifted up his heel and turned against me. 10 But you, O Lord, be merciful to me and raise me up, and I shall repay them. 11 By this I know you are pleased with me, that my enemy does not triumph over me. 12 In my integrity you hold me fast, and shall set me before your face forever. 13 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, from age to age. Amen. Amen.


SECOND READING Colossians 1:1-14

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. 3We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing — as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. 9And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.


GOSPEL Luke 10:25-37

25And behold, a lawyer stood up to put {Jesus} to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”



Over the past several months I’ve been stressing the need for discipleship. As you have come to understand, being a disciple of Jesus is much more than simply showing up at church every now and again; it involves commitment. Being a disciple means the dedication of our entire lives to God and to His service. In short it means the denial of one’s self and the taking up of our crosses for the kingdom of God.
As part of the continued emphasis on discipleship, we looked at the NALC’s four Core Values and shortly, in the fall, I plan to offer a Bible study on the seven marks of discipleship. One of the marks or traits of a disciple is Bible study and I’d like to demonstrate one of the various ways in which you can study the Bible as a teaser for the upcoming session. To do this, I’ll start by asking a question.
How many of you remember the sitcom Gilligan’s Island? It only ran for 3 seasons, but it’s one of those shows that seems to be a timeless classic; one, I’m sure, that will be shown over and over again. I haven’t watched it in a few years, but with services like Netflix, Hulu and channels like the Comedy Channel, I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t shown periodically. As I remember it, it was, for the most part, filled with light-hearted humor and good clean fun. As I was researching material for the sermon today I ran across an article that made me stop and ponder the story presented.
I don’t think any of us will deny that Hollywood uses the Bible, time and again, as an inspiration for building its scripts and storylines. In the aforementioned article, the author forwards that, in actuality, the characters of Gilligan’s Island were written in a manner so that each character represented one of the seven deadly sins. According to the author, the cast represented each sin as follows: Envy – Mary Ann; Gluttony – The Skipper; Mr. Howell – Greed; Lust – Ginger; The Professor – Pride; Gilligan – Sloth and Anger – Mrs. Howell.
Now, as a fan of the show, I’m not so sure that I agree completely with the author, but he did give me reason to look at this old favorite of mine in a new light. This also made for a nice segue into the first area I wanted to talk about and that’s the seven deadly, or capital sins. First, please don’t confuse this list with the list of the “six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) The seven deadly sins are ones that have come to us via tradition. The main difference between these two lists, is that in looking for this latter list of sins, you won’t find a single verse or series of verses in the Bible where these seven capital sins are listed together. This list comes down to us through the ages and all are listed in the Bible as things to avoid. The first on this list is Jealousy or Envy:
In Proverbs 27:4 we read, “Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming; but who can stand before jealousy? And to further illustrate the effect of envy, Jesus told a parable in Matthew 20:1-16 about the landowner who went out to hire people to work in his vineyard. Early in the morning the landowner hired some workers and they agreed to the usual daily wage. He went out again at 9, noon, 3 and finally at 5 and with the later he hired, he only agreed to pay a fair wage. At the end of the day all were paid the same. The ones hired early in the morning became envious and expected more. Their jealousy led to a second of the deadly sins, anger.
If you were to turn back to the 14th chapter of Proverbs (29-30) we’d read, “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh, but passion makes the bones rot. Again Jesus taught against wrath in Matthew 5:21-22, where He said, “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. This brings us to the third sin on our list. Gluttony.
This time flip back to Proverbs 23:20-21 where Solomon wrote, “Be not among winebibbers, or among gluttonous eaters of meat; for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.” Now to be honest, the study of the Hebrew word here for gluttony could comprise an entire sermon since it’s definition includes over indulgence, stubbornness, rebellion, disobedience, drunkenness, and wastefulness. So we’ll save that for another day and move on to the fourth capital sin, Greed.
In Isaiah 56:11, the prophet writes, “The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. The shepherds also have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all. And in Mark 10:17-27 we can read what Jesus had to say about the subject. In response to a question asked of Jesus, we read how a rich man came to Jesus and asked Him how he could have eternal life. Jesus’ response was to sell all he had and give it to the poor and come follow Him. The rich man went away saddened. He wanted his riches, for they were his gods and at the same time have eternal life as well. Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle then for a rich man to enter heaven. Based on this story we see how greed can cost you an eternity with God.
Our fifth sin on this ancient list is that of Lust. Again turning back to Proverbs 11:6 we read, “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust. And Jesus was pretty straight-forward when He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)
Number six on our list of deadly sins is Pride. Again looking to the wisdom of Solomon (Proverbs 16:18), we read, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Then in Luke 18:9-15 Jesus again uses a parable to illustrate His point. In this story there were two people praying in the temple one a Pharisee the other a tax collector. The Pharisee’s prayer was that he was glad he was not like the tax collector. The tax collector’s prayer was for forgiveness. Jesus’ point was that the tax collector, because of his humility, went home absolved from his sins, but the Pharisee went away, not only with his proud attitude but also unforgiven.
This brings us to our final deadly sin, Sloth or Laziness. In Proverbs 9:15 we read, “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.” So there we have it, the seven deadly sins and Bible references for each. However, at this point some of you might be asking, what does these seven deadly sins have to do with our gospel lesson this morning?
As I mentioned earlier, being a disciple means there are things we do to better ourselves as disciples of Christ. One of these, as I mentioned, is to read and study the Bible. At this point I’d like to illustrate yet another way of studying the Bible and that’s by looking at this list of deadly sins and at our gospel reading for today.
Follow along as I reread the gospel lesson, but this time I’d like you to see how many of these seven deadly sins you can see within the reading. (Luke 10:27-35)
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, (the lawyer) desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
I know this was short notice and most of you weren’t been taking notes, but out of curiosity, how many of you found four of the seven deadly sins? How about five? Anyone find 6? Did anyone find all 7? If you found all seven, please see me after church today and show me the 7th!
In light of our list of capital sins and the reading, let’s take a look at this story and see what’s going on. Jesus appears to have been in a place where a crowd had gathered to hear Him speak and among the crowd there was at least one religious leader, a lawyer. Lawyers in that day were people that had become experts in the religious laws. This lawyer, sometime during Jesus teaching session, decided that he wanted to test Jesus.
Now we need to consider that it’s highly probable that there were other religious leaders in the crowd as well and equally as probable that these religious leaders represented both the Pharisees and the Sadducees. This lawyer could have wanted to test Jesus in an attempt to divide Him against the Pharisees and Sadducees with his question, since the Pharisees believed in a resurrection and the Sadducees didn’t. It’s also quite possible that the lawyer was envious of Jesus’ popularity, the first of our seven capital sins, because the people were coming to him instead of the religious establishment. However, if we were to assume that the lawyer came with the intent of treating Jesus with at least a modest amount of respect, then it’s possible that the question was asked for personal reasons rather then political reasons.
Whatever the motivation, the lawyer stands and asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life? For someone who followed the teachings of the Pharisees, this would be considered a legitimate question. But this isn’t where the lawyer had problems. The second of the seven deadly sins that was demonstrated by the lawyer was pride.
The sin of pride wasn’t that the lawyer asked the question, it was that he tried to justify himself before Jesus. Being considered an expert in the law, I’m sure that he followed it closely and was proud of his accomplishments. However, we know that salvation doesn’t come by obeying the law, it comes through faith in Christ.
Another lesson the lawyer would quickly learn is that when folks tried to test Jesus, they more often than not, found that they were the ones being tested, not Jesus. If you remember others had tried to test Jesus on taxes and divorce. He was also asked to give a sign and was asked His feelings about the woman caught in the act of adultery. On each of these occasions, Jesus turned the tester into the one being tested. Pride or vanity will cause a person to test God, and if we allow ourselves to be filled with pride, guess who will end up being tested.
The third sin we see is sloth or the unwillingness to do something. This is seen with both the priest and the Levite in the parable that Jesus told. Both the Priest and Levite had religious excuses having to do with ritual purity since they both had duties to fulfill in the temple. But the bottom line is, they were unwilling to lift a finger to assist. As for the 4th sin, what we see in the story is the lack of wrath.
This is interesting since the Samaritans were people that were despised by the Jews. They were referred to as half-breeds and were considered at best to be second class citizens, if they were considered citizens at all. Of the three characters in the parable, the Samaritan possibly had the most right, in human terms, to avoid the situation. Instead of allowing his anger against societal mistreatment to affect his actions, he showed pity on the injured man and took care of him. This brings me to the 5th and 6th sins or in this case the lack thereof.
Again we look to the Good Samaritan to see the positive virtues. The good Samaritan was not a glutton with his provisions and horde them for himself, rather he poured his own wine on the man’s wounds to disinfect and olive oil as well to keep the skin supple during the healing process. It’s also highly probable that he also tore his own garments to use as bandages. What we see here, in this parable, is generosity instead of greed. After tending to the man that night, in the morning, the Samaritan paid the innkeeper and promised to reimburse any further expenses on his return trip.
The point I’m trying to make this morning is that we on many occasions are guilty of sin not necessarily in just our deeds but in our lack of action. This is why we need to pray for forgiveness not only for what we’ve done but also for what we have left undone. We need to take time to examine, not only our actions in dealing with others, but our motives as well. In both the Old Testament and New Testament, we are told that humans look on the outward appearance but God looks on our heart or at our motives. (1 Samuel 16:7)
In closing I’d like to leave you with a second list for you to ponder. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century theologian felt that sin couldn’t be ranked and instead offered a list of seven virtues that we’re to seek and ask God to foster in us. These virtues are: Faith, Hope, Charity or Love, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. Aquinas referred to the first three, Faith, Hope and Love as holy virtues. It was Paul in I Corinthians 13:13 that said it is faith hope and love that endure, but the greatest of these is love.
The question asked by the lawyer is a valid question, who is my neighbor? Our neighbors are those that we come into contact with everyday, and it’s the words Jesus gave to another lawyer in Matthew 22 starting with verse 34, the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and the second in which hangs all the law and prophets is to love your neighbor as yourself. If we’re to obey the command Jesus left the Lawyer with, then we need to go and do likewise.

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