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B'resheet/Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noach. Noach was a righteous man (NASB)
Proverbs 10:7 tells us that "the memory of the righteous will be for a blessing" (CJB), so immediately after setting the context for this week's parasha - the days of Noach and his children - the Torah tells us that Noach was a righteous man. The Midrash says that this commendation of Noach comes before the list of Noach's sons in order to teach that the main offspring of the righteous are good deeds (B'reisheet Rabbah 30:6).
While we know that is it "by grace you have been saved through faith ... not as a result of works (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB), Rav Sha'ul goes on to tell us that we are G-d's workmanship, "created in union with the Messiah Yeshua for a life of good actions already prepared by G-d for us to do (Ephesians 2:10, CJB). Should we be asking ourselves what it is that will mark us out in our generation as men and women of G-d?
Kefa (Peter) wrote to the believers living in the Diaspora to, "live such good lives among the pagans that even though they now speak against you as evildoers, they will, as a result of seeing your good actions, give glory to G-d on the Day of His coming" (1 Peter 2:12, NASB). It is a question of witness: how we are seen and perceived by those around us, by those with whom we live and work. If we are to be a blessing to those with whom we are in daily contact, we must be good and consistent witnesses for the Kingdom of G-d.
Whilst Rav Sha'ul told Timothy to be "ready in season and out of season (2 Tim 4:2, NASB), there is nothing worse than the bore who cannot seem to open their mouth without cramming the gospel down everyone's throat whether it is appropriate or not. As far as the gospel is concerned, words are often one of the last steps required. Advertising executives tell us that it takes seven successful contacts to persuade someone to buy a product, and a direct appeal to buy is nearly always rejected before the final step. St. Francis of Assissi sent out his disciples to share the gospel with everyone they met in all possible ways; he finished his instructions by saying that the disciples could even use words if necessary.
Further Study: Yaakov (James) 2:14-26
Application: If you went home to be with the L-rd today, what would you want people to write in your obituary? How do you think people would remember you? In your generation, are you a righteous person?
© Jonathan Allen, 2003
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