Tuesday of Pentecost 15– Ezekiel 33:7-9

“So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. I once saw a woman take three steps back from the person she was talking to. Her conversation partner looked at her rather surprised. Why did she do that? “Well,” replied the woman, “in the Bible sometimes God struck people with lightning who said things like that.” That will get your attention. Jesus says: “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.  (Mt. 18:7-9) Sometimes I think we do not take sin seriously enough. We have learned to cope with its effects and have grown calloused to its presence in our lives. We will work harder to shed a few pounds than we are willing to work to shed a persistent sin. The word sin itself has almost left our vocabulary. About the only place you find the word “sin” outside of church is on the dessert menu where the triple chocolate torte might be “sinfully good.” Temptation also is rarely used outside of something as trivial as a plate of cookies or donuts. But sin and temptation are real, and they are problems. Jesus draws our attention to that. If your hand caused you to sin, you would cut it off if that meant going to eternal life, the same with a foot or an eye. But it is not your foot or hand or eye that causes you to sin. You cause you to sin. Now what will you do? You cannot cut off your heart and your mind, your very self. From the beginning God has given us a remedy for sin. He walked through the garden calling our rebellious first parents after they ate the forbidden fruit. He still calls sinners to repent and be forgiven in Christ. He does that through you. God wants to deal with the sin problem. He says that is important. That is why he established the church on earth. That is why he called you into its ranks through baptism. Your silence in the face of sin is not an option. Ezekiel was told that he would be responsible for the death of the unwarned man. He was not responsible for their repentance. But he was responsible for his own words. Is there someone in your life who needs to hear a call to repent? Do it.

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