Pure words

I have a quote from Psalm 12:6 on my desk written in Hebrew and English. The verse says, "The words of the Lord are pure words." Some of the synonyms for "pure" in my thesaurus say "unadulterated, sterling, 100% refined." Nothing has been added to the Lord's words. They are the real thing. They can be trusted. This isn't true of men and women. So often what we say is tainted by impure or self-seeking motives. I have yet to meet a person who is 100% trustworthy in every word they utter (including me!). I was thinking that if God's words are that pure and true, then it's probably a good idea to read them as often as we can. Sundays are especially good days for me to do that, and yesterday I spent time in Matthew where I came upon the story of Jesus and the Centurion who had the servant who was sick. He came to Jesus and asked Jesus to heal the servant. Jesus said,

“I will go and heal him.”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it."

I stopped at the Centurion's comment -"Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof." For a man in his position, what an incredibly humble statement! I followed a cross reference in my Bible to another place where a Canaanite woman begged Jesus to heal her daughter. That time Jesus was not so quick to respond with the offer of healing. At first He did not reply despite her continued pleas, to the point that His disciples asked Him to send her away. Then he finally spoke and said,

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

She came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

(By now how many of us would have given up?) But notice her humble persistence.

“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Jesus commended her faith, as He did with the Centurion. In fact, Scripture says He was "astonished" at the Centurion's faith and told those listening that He had not found such great faith in Israel. Both the Centurion and the Canaanite woman were Gentiles. (Earlier in Matthew's gospel, it tells us that Jesus' fame had spread into Syria where "people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him." If you look at a map of Israel, you will see that Syria (Gentile territory) is to the north of Galilee (which was a mix of Israel and some Roman influence, I think), the Decapolis (which also had Gentile influence - where Jesus healed the demon-possessed man and the pigs ran into the sea) is across the Jordan to the east, Judea is south, and across the Jordan would mean more area to the east.

In other words, Jesus had a large following! Most of those in the crowds were from Israel, and yet the greatest faith Jesus noted here came from two Gentiles, a man and a woman, both who considered themselves unworthy of His help, yet whose faith sent them to seek it. That faith started with humility. They knew they were undeserving of grace, which is where we all (Jew or Gentile) must start when we come to Jesus. One who seeks finds when he seeks with right attitudes.

But no one displayed greater humility and faith than Jesus Himself. His humility was as pure as His words. (He was called the Word, after all.) Philippians 2 tells us that even though Jesus was in His very nature God, He did not cling to His rights as God, but instead humbled himself in obedience, even to the point of death on a cross (the most humiliating of deaths). Jesus entrusted Himself to His Father, and we are told to be like Him. Paul says it better than I can:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,      did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing,      taking the very nature of a servant,      being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man,     he humbled himself     and became obedient to death —         even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place     and gave him the name that is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,      to the glory of God the Father.

Pure words. True words. Humble words.

Words we can count on.