Matthew 21:32 [Jesus said to them,] “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.”

“Isn’t it wonderful that we live where we can see these kinds of things?” I said to my young daughter as I drove her to school. I had come to breakfast talking about the possum I discovered in the shed. Such encounters are one of the joys of rural life, I told my daughter, feeling proud to be passing on my values as a “good environmental steward.”

That’s when we hit the deer. Spinning on the rain-slick road, the car ended up in the grass, nose-first against the barbed wire fence. The deer, a large buck with an impressive rack, made it only as far as the shoulder before dying. Hands still gripping the wheel, I told the nice man who stopped that we were okay. I didn’t mention the hard lesson I had just learned.

You think you’re righteous, Jesus tells the authorities in this passage, but God cares nothing for your empty words. God cares nothing for what we have been but only for what we are becoming.

MOVING FORWARD: When have your words been empty? When have they been full? What was the difference between those stories?