Briefing: Do you wear a uniform at work? For those of us who do, some departments have awards programs that award officers with ribbons that you wear on your uniform. Some military people call them salad bars. If you do, you may understand the importance of having a few ribbons so people don’t think you’re a rookie.
Dispatch (Assignment): Read Matthew 6:1-16 and see if you can see yourself in this passage; I can.
On the Street: Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Give me enough shiny pieces of clothe, and I can rule the world”. How sad!
I can remember the day I got my first ribbon for my uniform shirt. It was white with two black bars running vertically. It was a marksmanship bar. To receive this award, you had to shoot ninety eight or better at three consecutive pistol qualifications. I wore it proudly. It proved to the world that I was no longer a ribbonless rookie. I didn’t wear it because of the achievement. No, I wore it for other officers to see. At one point in my career, it became my goal to be the most decorated officer in the department. My aim was not to be the best public servant, it was to fill my chest with ribbons so everyone could see how important I was. I was already a legend in my own mind; I just needed to convince everyone else that I was Super Cop.
Jesus addresses this issue head on. He tells us that we are not to live to please other men but to please our heavenly Father. He goes so far as to tell us to do these things in secret. Jesus is talking about a genuine attitude of generosity and service.
I don’t know about you, but I feel I was called to this profession. When I got hired, my goal was to help people. I truly wanted to protect and serve. Somewhere this noble goal got twisted to the point where I began to serve only myself. This passage speaks directly to us in law enforcement. We are called to be servants.
I have learned that if the Bible mentions anything, it is important. If it mentions it twice, I better pay particular attention to it. In this passage Jesus tells us three times (verse four, six, and eighteen), “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” We all want to be recognized for a job well done. Instead of winning a cheap earthly reward, why not save up for a heavenly one?
Highlights from this Read: We can’t help but notice the Lord’s Prayer in this passage. Verse nine through fifteen is probably the most recognized prayer of all time. I think it is interesting that we know this prayer because in most churches the entire congregation recites it. Jesus teaches us this prayer as one to be prayed in secret. We use it as a public group prayer.
Verses sixteen through eighteen give us some direction on fasting. The church I grew up in did not practice this so fasting was very “out of the box” for me. It is an opportunity for a deep spiritual connection with the Father.
I find verse fourteen particularly alarming. If I choose not to forgive someone who crosses me then God will not forgive me for all the times I have sinned, which is constant. I not only have to ask Him for forgiveness but I have to get into the attitude of forgiving others.
Investigational Resources: Luke 11:2-4.
Officer Safety Principle: Attitude is key.
from The Gospel of Matthew Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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