Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Holier Than Thou
When Jesus called Matthew to be a disciple, eyes rolled and a collective “Oy vay!” went up as people questioned Jesus’ logic (Matthew 9:9-13). Mathew was a tax collector! Also known as a publican, this occupation was arguably the most vilified profession of the day. Many publicans openly cheated those whom they served, and thus were hated by society. But Jesus knew that tax collecting was not sinful in itself, it was man’s corrupt nature that caused him to sin while performing the duties of the office. Jesus also knew God’ grace would be magnified if one so fallen could repent and be saved.
When Jesus arrived at Mathew’s house to eat dinner, He was surrounded by other tax collectors and other “sinners”. The anxiety level reached epic proportion, especially among the religious groups such as the Pharisees. Not only had Jesus chosen to, in their minds, defile Himself by eating with publicans and sinners, He had caused His disciples to commit the same sin. What the Pharisees failed to realize was that those who are called to Christ must welcome all who are His. Since Matthew had been called as well as the “less-sinful” disciples, it was only right for all to be with Christ at the dinner. Christ will accept anyone who opens their heart to Him (Revelation (3:20).
Ironically, the Pharisees were the ones with the problem, not Jesus or the disciples. The Pharisees were proud men who were full of conceit and who were quick to censure the actions of others. They were similar to those in the times of the prophets who said “Stand by yourself and don’t come near me, I am holier than thou.” They made it a strict habit to avoid sinners, but, ironically, failed miserably in avoiding sin. They had passion and zeal for a form of Godliness, but were actually enemies of the power and love in it. Had they understood Jesus’ message, they would have recognized their own sin, which Jesus abhorred (Matthew 23:1-36). They were no better than the publicans.
Lacking the courage to address Jesus directly, they approached the disciples cowardly to complain about the situation. Jesus, recognizing His disciples were still weak and new to their faith, stepped in to handle the complaints and accusations of the Pharisees. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”, Jesus told them, and in doing so, exposed His greater plan.
Sin is the sickness of the soul, and sinners are spiritually sick. Those who are sick need a physician, not those who are healthy, and those with the greatest illnesses need the greatest attention of the physician. Christ is the great physician of souls, who humbled Himself as a Deity to come to Earth as the One who would be persecuted and mistreated. Moreover, His mission was also to heal and to save the souls of those who needed it most, and the tax collectors and sinners truly needed His salvation.
Jesus Christ showed that true religion does not consist in external observances of sanctity; rather, it comes by doing all we can to assist the bodies and souls of others. Whereas the Pharisees espoused a form of Godliness, they were prideful, covetous, and full of ambition. They were every bit the sinners that the publicans were. They honored God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8).
Jesus showed us how it is normal to attend to the souls and needs of sinners, as long as we do not participate in the sin. The sinners have no way of extracting themselves from their sin unless the Word of God is brought to them (Romans 10:14-15). If Jesus where here on Earth in the flesh today, He would likely seek out the sinners as He did during His first coming.
It is easy to take a “holier than thou” attitude toward sinners, but Jesus has taught us this is not normal. Instead, we must remember that each of us sins in our own ways and needs the healing power of the Great Physician. We must also show His ways to others, and be willing to humble ourselves as our Holy Jesus taught us.
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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