November 18 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be
your downfall.” ~Ezekiel 18:30

OLD TESTAMENT

The exiles living in Babylon blamed their troubles on their parents’ generation. “Our parents ate sour grapes and left a bad taste in our mouth” (Ezek. 18:2, paraphrase).  In other words, we are stuck here in Babylon because our parents messed up! However, God will not abide blame shifting!

The prophet tells a story of a father who lives righteously. He doesn’t worship idols.  He doesn’t commit adultery. He follows even obscure laws to a tee. Plus, he is honest at work, doesn’t take advantage of the poor, and helps those in need. This man will live! His son, however, does the opposite of his righteous father in every area. Therefore, he will die. His son decides to also do the opposite of his father, and so he follows in the steps of his grandfather. He, like his grandfather, will live.

The lessons of individual responsibility and accountability to God were too long neglected in a culture where community was so highly prized. The communal ethos of Israelite culture made the people more susceptible to blame shifting. While there is no denying that what our fathers do affects or influences us, it is equally true that children can and do make different choices than their parents. Some children decide to rebel against the teaching and example of good parents. Meanwhile, other children decide they want nothing to do with a bad parent’s lifestyle choices.

“I will judge you, each one according his ways” is the lesson of today’s reading, and it’s a message of hope (Ezek. 18:30). God deals with us where we are in the moment, not where our parents were ten years ago. If we are righteous and veer off God’s path, He will discipline us. If we are wicked and turn from our sin, God will bless us. Even if your heritage is one of wrong choices and rejection of God, you can do life differently. You can choose to love and serve God. Yours are the choices for which you will be judged.

NEW TESTAMENT

The writer to the Hebrews issues a series of final instructions on a variety of topics. I wish to focus on one that is often neglected—the ancient practice of showing hospitality. Hospitality (entertaining people, having people over to your home, or taking them out to eat) is an important Christian tradition that proclaims the message of God’s generosity toward His people. He has provided acceptance, warmth, food, shelter, friendship, joy, refreshment, and all the things that hospitality represents.

Think about what it says when someone invites you to their home. It says, “We invite you into our lives, we accept you for who you are, we want to serve you and refresh you, we want to enjoy being with you.” That is huge! Sure, some people are better at it than others, but every Christian should show hospitality because of the hospitality he or she has been shown by God.

As the writer notes, you never know who you are entertaining. “Entertaining angels” does not mean literal celestial beings. The writer’s point is that you don’t know what good may come for either the person you host or for you. Your guest may be the next Billy Graham or Mother Theresa. He may be the person who helps your son land his first job or the person who is there for him when he is going through a tough time! You never know. The primary motive for hospitality is love for others, but in showing love to others we often build important relationships that will be a blessing forever! So break out the calendar and invite some people over.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.