Be Ye Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only Start Doing

Pentecost 17 – Year B

I am not humble.

What I am, and this is a true saying, is:

ungodly,

unreasonable,

base,

unclean,

insulting to my Creator,

arrogant,

ruthless,

envious,

selfish,

ambitious,

murderous,

adulterous,

thieving,

disputatious

and conflicted

… in thought, word or deed.

These words come from today’s Scripture selections — and sadly, they fit me real well.

I’m not happy to admit it, but they fit me like, like … comfortable old clothes — which never get put away for long.

They fit me no matter how old I get, or how many responsibilities and commitments I try to fulfill. They fit me no matter how much I go to church, act nice, or stand in this glorious pulpit.

These dark habits of pride fit like jeans, sneakers, and an old tee-shirt; and they will always be in my closet. I’m not proud of them, but they fit, and they are mine. And I put on my comfortable clothes of pride every morning without a second thought.

After all, ambition and envy complement one another; while covetousness brings out the green. Knowledge without wisdom is a good cover-all — particularly for men like me — and a splash of self-interest ties the whole thing together.

These are my clothes of self, and I put them on in the morning before I go about my natural born day, fulfilling my needs, and the needs of those who — matter to me.

And you know what, I’m just like anybody.

Just like the former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange; or the former president of Liberia; or the next Governor of California, who really could be anybody.

Indeed, just like anybody, my old clothes of self dress me up like any old friend of this World.

But … judging from what Jesus and James tell me, the white robe of humility is what folks are wearing in the Kingdom of God.

In the Kingdom, everybody’s wearing the robes of holiness, new life, and friendship with God. They’re wearing the robes of their Maker, by whose grace all who turn to him are welcomed — for no earthly reason.

In the Kingdom, everybody’s wearing the clothes of workmen —because everybody in the kingdom is working for the sole purpose of serving everybody else, in the just way that God suited them.

For me, the holy clothes of the Kingdom are hard to put on. I often forget that they’re even in my wardrobe.

Usually, I only put them on when I’ve finally grown tired of the same old self I normally put on.

On those gracious days, when I’ve entered again into the savior’s closet to get dressed, all of a sudden, my uncleanness and pridefulness are wiped clean, and I am swaddled tight in the white robe God gives all his newborns.

Now, I don’t know much, but it is tiring to be a new dad. It’s even more tiring to be a new mom — I know, I’ve been watching.

But whether you’ve taken care of kids or parents or friends or even strangers in a life and death kind of way – you know what I’m talking about. And it can be really hard. But it’s good – isn’t it? You can get really tired, but it’s “good tired.” Isn’t it?

Just as Jesus grew tired on the hard wood of the cross, this service to others is redemptive. It’s humbling. And it’s holy.

It’s called ministry.

This is what Christian disciples do. We put on the work clothes of humility and service that our Father in Heaven has given us to wear each day; and we go into the world — not boasting of our own generosity, but of the Grace of God who is the fulfillment of all.

The disciples of Jesus, people like us, are called to serve those around us, and to take our rest in the blessed peace of God.

By this response alone, instead of covering up our emptiness with the proud clothes of the World, we fill our insides with the living breath of God.

What is your ministry? What has God given you to put on?

Pray for me, and I will pray for you, that today and tomorrow, for a change, we will put on the clothes of the Kingdom, and not the comfortable old clothes of the World.

Amen.