Matthew, chapters 18 & 19

“[…] Whatever things you may bind on earth will be things already bound in heaven, and whatever things you may loosen on earth will be things already loosened in heaven.”
~Matthew 18:18

When we are waiting for a decision to be made by our congregation’s body of elders, we can easily lose patience if it affects us personally.
When Jesus was talking about things being bound or loosened, he did it in the context of someone on trial.
When a body of elders holds someone to account for their sins, they need to be careful not to rush into rash judgments based on hurt feelings.
Jesus implied elders’ decisions should be based on principles laid down in heaven, and the same principles should guide them when reinstating someone into the congregation. (2 Cor. 2:6-8)

Proverbs, chapters 17-21

“The breath of a man is the lamp of Jehovah, Searching through his innermost being.”

~Proverbs 20:27

God has given us life, free will and the opportunity to prove what kind of persons we are (De. 30:19).

Like the loving father that He is, he assumes the best in us and sees our potential (1 Chron. 28:9; 1 Ki. 14:13).


There is nothing we can hide from him, and he can dissect even our subconscious thoughts and motivations
(Heb. 4:13).
When we pray about the decisions we take and consider his guiding principles found in the Scriptures, we invite him into our life.

Then we can fully reflect the light he is trying to shine through us (2 Cor. 3:18).

2 Samuel, chapters 19-21

Chapter twenty relates to us how Joab ambitiously regained the position of chief military commander and incurred God’s wrath.

After Joab disobeyed King David by killing his son, David fired Joab and gave his job to Amasa (2 Sam. 18:12-14; 19:13).

Amasa had previously served as the commander in the insurgent army (2 Sam. 17:25).

When the two men met to chase down a new insurgent, Joab tricked Amasa and ran his sword through him.

“Joab said to Amasa: ‘Are you all right, my brother?’ Then with his right hand, Joab took hold of Amasa’s beard as if to kiss him. Amasa was not on guard against the sword that was in Joab’s hand, and Joab stabbed him with it in the abdomen […]” (2 Sam. 20:9,10).

Thus, by the end of the story, we are told that “Joab was in charge of all the army of Israel,” (2 Sam. 20:23).

Joab allowed his zeal for his job as David’s right-hand man to turn into self-centered ambition.

This disproportionate ambition led him to commit at least two murders and participate in at least one other (2 Sam. 3:27; 11:16,17).

Eventually, Joab was held accountable for his evil deeds (1 Kings 2:31-33).

What we learn from this story is that while zeal for attaining greater privileges in God’s service is commendable, one should not allow that zeal to turn into selfish ambition.

An overly ambitious attitude could lead us to give priority to a personal agenda rather than to obeying God’s theocratic arrangements.

When we ignore God’s instructions handed to us through the congregation in order to protect our self-interests, we wind up hurting others and displeasing Jehovah (Heb. 13:17).

2 Samuel, chapters 13-15

Then Tamar put ashes on her head, and she ripped apart the fine robe she was wearing; and she kept her hands on her head and walked off, crying out as she walked.
~2 Samuel 13:19

Tamar, King David’s daughter, had just been raped by her half-brother, Amnon (2 Sam. 13:10-14).

In the above text, we can note how her initial reaction to draw attention to the gross act and violation of God’s law was spot on.

Tamar did not blame herself for the rape nor did she try to hide her half-brother’s actions, neither for her own sake nor for her family’s.

However, neither her aggression nor her distress were formally processed.

Absalom, Tamar’s full brother, met her and instead of helping her make a formal accusation, he asked her to keep quiet (2 Sam. 13:20).

Israelite law provided for a formal trial in such cases (Lev. 20:17; De. 19:15).
In this case, though, King David worried more about not hurting the feelings of his son Amnon than seeking justice for his daughter (2 Sam. 13:21).
Absalom did seek justice, but through his own means, and he ended up murdering Amnon (2 Sam.13:22,28,29).

What we learn from this passage is that when a person falls victim to rape, those of us who have the emotional and legal resources to help that person should pay attention to their cry of distress and do everything in our power to help them attain justice through a proper conduct.
We should never quiet a victim for the sake of anyone’s reputation, because “open reproof is better than concealed love,” (Dan. 2:22; Prov. 27:5).

Genesis, chapters 36-39

~Genesis 38:26

Then Judah examined them and said: “She is more righteous than I am…”

Judah was pretty set on executing his twice-widowed daughter-in-law, Tamar, when he found out she had prostituted herself (Gen. 38:24).

After her second husband died, he deceitfully promised her she could marry his third son once he was old enough (Gen. 38:11).

This was a common Hebrew practice, termed “brother-in-law marriage,” realized to preserve the first husband’s lineage (Gen. 38:8; Deut. 25:5,6). This arrangement also served to provide materially for women who otherwise might end up in dire poverty.

But when Judah’s son came of age, Judah was afraid he would also die so he did not keep his promise to Tamar.

When she realized she had been lied to, she disguised herself as a prostitute and had sexual relations with Judah, who by then was also a widow (Gen. 38:14-16).

Tamar was cunning enough to ask him for some of his personal belongings which she later used to hold him accountable for his actions (Gen. 38:18,25).

The lesson I wish to point out is that although Judah had acted shamefully, he readily admitted he had been wrong.

Judah was a prominent man, eventually receiving his father’s blessing. This was a privilege since only one of his father’s 12 sons could become an ancestor to the Messiah (Gen. 49:10).

Even so, he did not use his influence to hide his error or to crush the woman who brought it to light, thus setting an example for future leaders who likewise make grave mistakes.