Readings for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost

Matthew 22:15-22; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Isaiah 45:1-7

          Boggle – Scrabble – Crossword puzzles: I love word games. Not only are they entertaining, they’re often enlightening whenever I stumble upon a new term or definition.  But there is another type of “word game” people play that causes no end of frustration and misery. I’m talking about the times when we use our words not to uncover the truth but to obscure it. Flattery, lying, gossip, and exaggeration are just a few of the more common examples.

           The Gospel reading for Sunday shows us the stark difference between a sinful vs. a holy use of words. The Pharisees are out to “entangle Jesus in his words”. The question they pose is a trap hiding their true motives. But Jesus can see into their hearts. His answer not only evades their trap, but it exposes their hypocrisy (Matt 22).

           In the Old Testament reading, the LORD unveils Himself as the Grand Conductor of human history for the sake of His people. This revelation comes through the LORD’s unlikely employment of a pagan ruler – Cyrus of Persia – whom the LORD will use to liberate His people from exile. “…that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name” (Is 45).

            In the Epistle reading, Paul speaks to the Thessalonians using words that are both tender and true. He reminds them that they are loved and chosen by God for salvation, and he commends them for setting a good example to other believers of how to endure affliction “with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess 1).

God’s words are trustworthy and true. You can bank on His promises.

Make sure your own words today are truthful and kind.