Wednesday, April 10, 2019


Have you ever been made to feel as if you were insignificant, didn't matter or just not worth the effort?  Maybe you have been written off by someone you cared about.  

         When a person is made to feel insignificant or worthless, they will often withdraw and build a protective shell to ward off emotional harm from others. This is where dangerous and self destructive behavior can take place.  

     Where is God for the cast off, the misfit and the oddball?  Where is God for those on the fringe of society?  Does God just write people off as well?

            In Matthew 9:9-13 we see Jesus standing against the status quo and associating  with those who had been written off by society. Matthew 9:9-13  As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.  And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.  And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”   But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

               In Jesus' society, tax collectors were considered among the worst of the worst.  Granted, many tax collectors were dishonest and viewed as traitors for collecting taxes for occupying Rome, but nonetheless, they were cast offs. 

               Jesus called Matthew to be part of His inner circle, not because Matthew had anything special, but because Jesus knew Matthew's heart was willing. Jesus went to Matthew's home to eat and apparently other tax collectors and sinners of various stripes showed up as well.  Jesus did not excuse Himself or begin to rebuke anyone, He, instead, built relationships.  

                The Pharisees, who complained about Jesus associating with those they considered riff raff, were the establishment and arbiters of what was acceptable.  The Pharisees looked down on and criticized Jesus for associating with those who were deemed unworthy.   

              Jesus' response reveals God's heart toward those who are viewed as misfits.  Jesus values those society devalues.  Jesus seems very comfortable with with those who may make others squirm.

          As familiar and welcoming as Jesus was with the outcasts, He also did not downplay the fact they were sinners.  This is very important.  Jesus loved the fringey but He did not endorse, celebrate or overlook their sin.  

           Jesus makes two very important distinctions here:

1. He did not come for the self righteous or those who had no 
     sense of sin in their lives 

2. Those with sin were loved by God but needed the Great                     Physician to cure them of the spiritual disease of sin

Jesus recognized those with need and welcomed them, one and all, to have their needs met.  

Apparently, Jesus is not rebuking the dinner guests directly, not calling out their individual sins, rather, He is sharing truth.  Likewise, we are not the Holy Spirit, and it is not necessarily our role to point out everyone's specific sins, especially those of unbelievers.  Instead, we are to point those outside of faith to the Savior and allow God to convict their hearts.

         Notice whose sin Jesus pointed out?  The religious leaders.  There are times when it is biblical to directly address the sins of brothers and sisters in Christ.  There may even be times when it is appropriate to address dangerous behavior of unbelievers, but we should not be in the practice of calling out the individual sins of those outside the church.  

              People outside faith in Christ are not going to hell because they sin, they sin because they are going to hell
When we understand this truth, our approach to evangelism will change and look more like the way Jesus interacted with unbelievers.

             Jesus did not fail to address sin, but He did so only after a relationship or connection was established.  The woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the man healed at the pool of Bethesda - each one Jesus addressed sin, but each one had a meaningful encounter first.

              It is easy for believers to sit around criticizing, condemning and complaining about the sin of the world around us. It is not so easy for us to love and care about those whose lifestyles or behaviors disgust us.  This is where we need to be like Jesus, loving people where they are but not being willing participants in their own destruction. 

     Love means speaking truth

     Jesus never sugarcoated the truth and neither should we.  At the same time, we have to remember our use of the truth is not a club but a shepherds staff meant to guide others to the Good Shepherd.  

     Jesus said, "if you love me you will obey my commands" and we know Jesus commanded us to love God and love others.  Sounds pretty simple, right?  So let's get out there and do it!

       Jesus was not afraid to walk along the fringe of society in order to reach the lost.  Likewise, we cannot shun those who need to know about Jesus.  

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!


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