For April 22, 2019
After a religious gathering, inquiries were made about someone who missed the event. A person who knew the absentee responded by saying: “Gladiators,” and the message was clear.
A self-imposed representative of God, “straightened out” a person about a religious matter. As a result, the person who was criticized felt insulted, hurt, and chose not to attend the meeting.
In Luke 18:9-14, the Lord Jesus Christ addressed the issue of self-righteousness:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
In Matthew 7:1-5, the Lord admonishes us not to judge by attempting to remove the “speck” from someone’s eye when we have a “log” in our eye. A similar theme is presented in Galatians 6:1-3 (NIV):
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
Religious gladiators slay their wounded. This dynamic is difficult to understand since failure is part of the human experience. Each of us, even gladiators will inevitably make mistakes and/or disappoint someone at some point during our lifetime.
In working with those who were sinners and outcasts, Jesus used an approach based on love whereby although the sin was addressed, the recipient felt loved and valued.
His new paradigm brought an extraordinary inner transformation, via the Born Again experience resulting in an eternal fellowship with God and others where faith, hope, and love are celebrated and practiced.
Also, the vicarious work the Lord performed on our behalf we could not perform for ourselves inspires our humility and gratitude. He loved us and died for us when we were sinners with no desire for Him or the things of God. As result, we now can have a deep abiding faith in the Lord while we hope in His promise of eternal life; completely motivated by love.
Because we are sin-tarnished, we must rely on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His perfect righteousness at all times. There is no place for self-righteousness in this model because our focus is never on our righteousness, which will always be “filthy rags” even on our best day according to Isaiah 64:6. Sanctification is a full time job that requires our attention 24/7.
Thus, civility, forgiveness, and reconciliation should be our aim when we encounter people who have either stumbled and/or have fallen into sin. Expressing love, and restoring the person to a right relationship with the Lord should be our objective. In other words, we should never shame or disgrace the person since we can stumble too.
Our goal is to restore, but our success is not guaranteed. Everyone has the freedom to choose to obey the Lord. Yet we can assist them into wholeness and restoration just as Jesus modeled.
Got tranquility? Yes! When Christ is our example.