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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood

 

Cross Your Fingers

“For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” (Mark 7:10-13, NIV)

Jesus is responding to criticism by the Pharisees and teachers of the Law that His disciples violate tradition by eating food without first performing the religious ritual of hand washing. He’s accused His opponents of majoring on minors, of substituting their traditions in place of keeping God’s laws.

He then illustrates their hypocrisy by describing how they violate their responsibility to parents as mandated by the Fifth Commandment to honor your father and mother.

Jesus’ words to these hypocrites remind me of the childhood practice of crossing your fingers behind your back while telling a lie. The idea was that the crossed fingers cancelled out the words spoken.

In Jesus’ day, a person could shelter their assets through putting them in a “religious trust” called Corban. Anything Corban was technically owned by God and could only be used for holy purposes. However, the individual still retained full control over the use of the money.

The commandment to honor mother and father included the responsibility of adult children to care for their parents if they needed help in their old age. It was long before the days of Social Security and governmental assistance (which even now do not cancel out our obligation to assist our elderly parents as need and resource dictate).

Jesus evidently had direct knowledge of occasions when a needy parent had gone to an adult child of financial means and asked for help paying their rent or providing groceries, medicine or other necessities. The legalistic and financially able son or daughter could avoid the responsibility to help by saying: “You know I would really like to be able help you, but everything I have is dedicated to God. It wouldn’t be right for me to take what is God’s and give it to you.”

The parent then leaves disappointed and destitute while the adult child goes ahead and spends the Corban for themselves in whatever way they want, justifying their actions by crossing their fingers and saying, “Everything I do is really for God even though I’m the beneficiary.”

Jesus knifes through this kind of twisted and tortured logic. He opposes rationalizations. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. No crossed fingers or lip service when it comes to moral and ethical obligations!

I’m intrigued with Jesus’ summary phrase: “And you do many things like that.” In other words, Jesus has given only one example of His opponents’ crossed-fingers misbehavior. If you are careless in one area of your life, the chances are that’s not the only line you cross.

Ethical and moral dishonesty bleeds into the whole of life. It becomes easier and easier to give excuses for not fulfilling moral and spiritual duties, to justify our own wrong actions. Self-honesty is one of the hardest, but most necessary, self-disciplines.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, may I honor You by being a good child and a good parent. Grant that I live with integrity and never disappoint or disillusion my family through my words and deeds.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

Previous Years


2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark


Podcasts of On Your Mark are available in video and audio.
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