Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Writing People Off

Have you ever wished God would just take somebody out? Maybe it was a public figure who was known for wrongdoing. Maybe it was someone you knew personally who had done you a bad turn. This is a temptation all of us face. Or if we do not go to that extreme, it is still easy to write people off. Surely that person would not be interested in Christianity. Or if they were, surely God would not want them. Not until they cleaned up their act first anyway. I mean, surely God would not sit down to dinner with crooks and street-walkers and sinners like that. Or would He? The problem is, He did (Matthew 9:10-12; Luke 19:1-10; 7:36-49). Yet there is a danger of falling into this mindset. And while it is easy to make fun of Jonah going out and pouting because God chose to save the city of Nineveh (see Jonah 4), we need to recognize the little bit of Jonah inside each one of us.   

The antidote to this is to remember we ourselves are sinners saved by grace. God makes it clear that we are not good people who God has chosen to adopt for our good qualities, but that we are all by nature sinners and disobedient to God’s commands (Ephesians 2:1-3; Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9). But God, in spite of who we were, sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself (Romans 5:6-8; 3:21-26; Ephesians 2:4-9). Part of the problem is, we tend to forget what God really commands. We tend to erect a few key rules that we see as required. We then condemn those who have managed to pass over the boundaries of these rules and refuse to associate with them. But Jesus says that if we are angry and call names, we have committed murder in our hearts (Matthew 5:21,22). That if we take a long look at a woman, desiring her, we have committed adultery in our hearts (Matthew 5:27,28). That we are required to embrace complete honesty, even if we did not swear to it or make a binding contract (Matthew 5:33-37). That we are to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). When I look at the real standard and I look at my own heart, I find that I have my high horse shot right out from under me.

Further, the Bible says that anyone can be saved by putting their faith (Romans 4:4,5; Galatians 2:15,16; Philippians 3:9) in what the Lord Jesus has done to pay the price for their sins (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore, we are called to offer this message of grace to everyone, including those we may not think deserve it (1 Peter 3:15; Colossians 4:5,6; 2 Timothy 2:24-26). Because the fact is, we do not deserve it either (Romans 11:6; Titus 3:5,6; 1 Corinthians 1:26-30).

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