Do No Harm

Text: Luke 4:9-12
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
(NRSV)

Some of the details of the final temptation in the wilderness make this text very thought-provoking.  First, the devil is now using scripture and says, “For it is written…”  Second, Jesus, instead of saying “it is written,” says, “It is said”.  Of course, what Jesus is talking about can be found in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 6.

What I want to think about this morning is the fact that the devil is using scripture to tempt Jesus.  It is important that I do not use scripture to promote things that I want that can come between God and me or be harmful to others.  It is a temptation to use scripture to support the things we want to do, even when those things can actually separate us from God, bring about harm, or cause other unintended consequences.

Scripture was used to promote slavery, scripture was used to promote genocide during the time of Manifest Destany in the early spread of our country across the North American continent, scripture was used to prevent women from voting, and scripture is still being used today as a political football.

Perhaps the lesson here is that I not only need to carefully use scriptures to support my agenda, but I need to think through the possible harm to others as I use it.  If there was one thing that Jesus was absolutely clear about, and there were actually many, it was that love of God and love of others were the most important commands of all.  John Wesley said it this way, “Do no harm.”

Pray with me:

God of love and God of truth speak into my heart as I use your word to be passionate about your way.  Help me to always remember that foremost in the heart of your Son, Jesus was to love you and to love others and to do no harm.  AMEN.

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