A few truths from Sunday…
The Jewish people were supposed to walk in faith as a testimony to God’s grace and greatness, but instead they were prideful and lifted themselves up as “The Chosen of God.” We often do that. We think we’re so great because we’re “Servants of God,” and forget why we serve Him. It’s not about us! Prideful arrogance is killing the Christian community. Perhaps that’s why we are becoming so ineffective in this world.
Matt. 23:25-28 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”
God tells us He’d rather have those who repent after they have erred than those who lift themselves up as righteous before others. Here is a story of two sons:
Matt. 21:28-32 “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.”
Both sons sinned. One repented and then obeyed. The other looked good on the outside, but his heart was not right. Which son would you rather have? There was no third son listed – you know the one that said, “Sure Dad,” and then went to work. Why do you think he wasn’t listed here? Maybe he’s the exception. Maybe most of us fall into one of the two. Which one are you?
Many have asked me, and I have asked myself, “Why do you adopt kids that are a risk?” Well, I guess if I just had children by birth, I would have an easy life, yes, but if I take in kids who have no one and laiden with problems, perhaps a good work could be done through us by God. Of course there are the exceptions. I have one adopted daughter that was a blessing from the first minute we laid eyes on her. From her very first moment of understanding she wanted to know and serve the Savior. We look at her as a gift from God – kind of a pre-reward for what He was going to ask us to do in the future and to sustain us through the tough times.
But really, this isn’t about what we’ve done with our kids and the choices we’ve made. It’s about our heart and how we treat others. It’s about how we evaluate ourselves. Do we think we are righteous? Well, the only reason we are is because of Christ – certainly not anything we do or say would cause God to view us as righteous. Yet we still think of ourselves as accomplished in the Christian life – better than “the sinners.” I think my most difficult kids would do better if they could see real servanthood and the real love of God when they look around. That’s not to say we don’t have genuine Christians around us. Oh my, I could list many for you right now. I know who they are, and you do too. I’ve found them through my own adversity. They’ve revealed themselves through the hard times, not the good. During good times everyone appears righteous.
God didn’t tell us when we joined His family that we could only join if we would always be a blessing to Him. On the contary, He said, Matt. 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It doesn’t sound to me like He’s getting a pretty package all dressed up with a bow. Besides, who says we’re such a great catch anyway? To judge others unworthy of our help and love shows we think we are righteous like the Jews of old. Just because we all dressed up on the outside doesn’t mean we don’t have hidden sins in our heart that others can’t readily see – or maybe they can see, but they are “acceptable sins.” Perhaps we’re just better at hiding our sinful nature. The Bible says “All have sinned.” “All” means “all.”
God goes on to tell us that we ought to avoid the Christian who exalt themselves above others as “The Servants of God,” who ought to be honored because they’re so great. He says they may ruin us if we spend time with them. Wow. That’s really bold.
Gal. 5:15 “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”
2 Cor. 11:3-15 “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
The more I learn about God, the more I learn about myself, and the more the gap widens between Him and I in my own eyes. How very fortuante I am that He destroys that gap between us through salvation and that He still values me anyway. Wow. My view of others changes daily as God reveals truths and brings tough circumstances into my life. The more I interact with others who struggle in life, the less I think of myself.
But for the grace of God, there go I.