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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

murdre

You shall not murder. ~Exodus 20:13

Most of us think we’ve got this command covered because we haven’t murdered anyone.  Unfortunately, Jesus’ clarification in Matthew 5:21-26 deems us all guilty.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause[b] shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. ~Matthew 5:21-26

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us a clear picture of what it looks like to murder someone without causing physical death.  To hate someone in your heart, to be angry with someone unreasonably, or to curse them carelessly.

Jesus does not add anything new, he simply explains what the command really means for people who truly belong to him.  Interestingly, he speaks to those who already know well the law – who have these commands read and taught to them every week in the synagogue.  That’s why he begins, “You’ve heard it said…”

In other words, you know this stuff.  You constantly hear and teach it and have from your youth.  This is not new to you.  This has always been true and yet you repeatedly, continuously ignore the deeper truth that you should be teaching to others!

The Jews had a judgement for murder – even for accidental killing had a severe punishment!  So even if I didn’t mean to do it, I still had to pay a huge personal price because my brother’s life is extremely important and I am to treat it as such.  How careful we must be to avoid injuring him!

So even accidents had severe consequences, yet they failed to consider the underlying principles and foundation that this command was laid upon.  The outward emphasis that these religious men had placed upon this (and other) commandments was merely a gloss of piety meant to cover over their inward filth and pet sins against their brothers and sisters.  They therefore prohibited only the sinful act, not the sinful thought process that led up to it.  Jesus sets them straight.

When Jesus speaks of anger being sinful, he defines it as being, “without cause.” In other words, there are some real good reasons – right reasons to be angry.  Remember, this is a man who threw tables in the synagogue.  There is no doubt good reason to exhibit anger against willful rebellion and injurious, exclusive attitudes – especially if they are  continuously occurring within God’s house.

So then, anger is sinful if and when it is not valid.  Matthew Henry says it best:

“Anger is a natural passion; there are cases in which it is lawful and laudable; but it is then sinful, when we are angry without cause.  When is without any just provocation given; either for no cause, or no good cause, or not great and proportional cause; when we are angry upon groundless surmises, or for trivial affronts not worth speaking of; whereas if we are at any time angry, it should be to awaken the offender to repentance, and prevent his doing so again; to clear ourselves and to give warning to others.” 

Furthermore, when we are yelling at our brother calling him a fool as opposed to merely making him aware that he is indeed being foolish in order to convince him of his folly, that is wrong – the latter is right!  It is for his good!  Think of James, Paul, Christ – who speak to their hearers as, “O, vain man,” “You fools,” “O fools, slow of heart…”

Jesus goes on to teach a lesson in urgency.  In utter haste, we ought to be reconciled if another comes to us with a grievance for which we are responsible.  So important is this reconciliation with the one we’ve offended that Jesus forbids offering anything at all to Him until it is done.  We are utterly unfit to come to his altar in worship or sacrifice if we be not willing to reconcile with our brother or sister first.

“From all this it is here inferred, that we ought carefully to preserve Christian love and peace with all our brethren, and that if at any time a breach happens, we should labor for a reconciliation, by confessing our fault, humbling ourselves to our brother, begging his pardon, and making restitution, or offering satisfaction for wrong done in word or deed, according as the nature of the thing is; and that we should do this quickly for two reasons: 1. Because, till this be done, we are utterly unfit for communion with God in holy ordinances and 2. Because, till this be done, we lie exposed to much danger.  It is at our peril if we do not labor after an agreement, and that quickly…” Matthew Henry

Therefore, we see that, according to Our Lord, we are responsible not only to avoid causing physical injury and death to others, but emotional, spiritual, and all personal injury as well.

There is a time for everything – including anger, yet in it, we must not sin.

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quote

The three “R’s” used to be readin’, ‘wrightin, and ‘rithmetic, right?  In home school, at least at my house, we have a different set of “R’s.” They are respect, reasoning, righteousness, and responsibility.  If I succeed at teaching them those things, I have zero doubt that my kids will succeed in whatever it is they choose to do in life.  Even if their paths and choices lead to failure, they will succeed in character, integrity, and wisdom if just these four things are instilled in them.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!’ For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” ~Matthew 4:10

“What?!  Why would he say that?!” exclaims my indignant nine year-old.

“What?”

“Why would Jesus tell the devil to worship God?!  He will never do it!!”

“Just because we know someone is not going to listen does not mean God does not want us to tell them the truth.  Truth has two purposes.  One is grace for those who will listen and change by it.  The other is condemnation for those who will refuse it.

In other words, Jesus’ faithfulness in telling the truth of the scriptures to those who do not listen is actually what he will point to when he judges them.  It is not just sin that will condemn people, it will be also the saving grace God gave that was refused.

 The only sin listed in the Bible as unforgivable is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  What that means is that when God shows up to teach us and offers His truth to us by grace and we disbelieve, dismiss, and ignore it, we cannot be forgiven because we have pulled the rug out from under the means by which he saves.  If we refuse the Spirit of God when it speaks plain truth to us, we stiff arm God’s grace and we remain in stubborn, willful darkness.

We must learn to love the truth, girls.  No matter how uncomfortable, difficult, or painful it may be for us to accept, we must always embrace truth.  Never refuse or put off the truth of God when you learn it.  The Bible says, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now its the day of salvation.” ~2 Corinthians 6:1-2

There is a particular urgency to the truth.  Today is the day.  Don’t put it off.  Don’t wait one more second.  Take the truth to heart, now!  Today!  Do what is right, right away!  That is how we are to react when met with the truth.  Jesus is the Truth and he is the Way.  If we are following him, we must obey the truth, and obey it quickly.

The next day Bible class resumes.  We read Revelation chapter 16.

“Then I heard the angel of the waters say to God: ‘Holy One, you are the One who is and who was.  You are right to decide to punish these evil people.  They have spilled the blood of your holy people and your prophets.  Now you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’  And I heard the altar say: ‘Yes, Lord God All-Powerful, the way you punish evil people is right and fair.'” ~Revelation 16:5-7

This time my seven year-old protests.

“Doesn’t God say ‘Don’t do bad things back to people when they do bad to you?!’ Why is he doing bad to the bad people?  He is disobeying himself!!!”

“God tells us not to take revenge.  The reason we are not allowed to take revenge is because he is going to.  He tells us not to repay evil with evil because if we do, we will be judged, too.  God has to punish evil and he will punish evil because he is just and fair.  He punished Jesus for our sins but those who do not love and obey Jesus will get their own punishment.”

“Education was, in fact, so important to the Puritans that it was required.  By 1642, parents were required to teach their young children to read so they could know the Scriptures…The purpose of teaching was to learn the Word of God and defeat Satan, who was the deluder.  So the law to teach was called the ‘Old Deluder Satan Act.'” ~Linda Lacour Hobar, Mystery of History, Vol. III

My lessons for the week are very clear.

1. Tell the truth even when your hearers refuse to listen.

2.Trust God to judge evil.

3.Remember that it is parents who are responsible for their children’s education.

4. The ultimate goal of educating children is knowing and understanding the Scriptures.

AMEN.

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christmas

“I don’t know how I’m going to do it this year.  Christmas is just so expensive.  I don’t want the kids to be disappointed.”

My oldest practices her lines for the Christmas play.  I think of them as I wake and read John 12:3.  “Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

Christmas was expensive.  We can blame materialism for a lot but the truth is that Jesus led the way regarding the giving of lavish gifts.  He left the comfort of his eternal home to come to us on Christmas.  He gave up perfect peace, power, and personal priority  – all of which he possessed eternally.  He gave up those things in order to give the gift of himself to this world.  It was not a trifle or a trinket – this God-man gave what men needed most.  Jesus gave us his love, his truthful teaching, and his forgiveness.  He did this by giving primarily one thing – his time.  Not only that, but he did it in ways that meant extreme personal sacrifice and pain.  Knowing he would be (and was) despised and rejected, he showed up.  He kept showing up, in fact, showing himself true and sharing himself fully only to be accused and attacked by jealous men.

Time.  Teaching.  Transparency.  These are the ways in which Our Savior truly gave.  These are the ways in which he expects us to give.  They often must be given at extreme personal expense.

Consider the woman with the costly perfume.  What she gave was outrageously expensive.  Still, how she gave it was even more costly.  With the most religious and powerful men in her sphere looking down their noses at her, she honors Jesus with all that she has with great humility and without concern over their slander and disapproval. (See Luke 7:36-40.)

The act of giving as a Christian is not merely what we give, it is how we give it that counts even more.  Real love, honest communication, true friendship, openness and transparency within community are some of the things Jesus gave in coming to earth and sharing his time with men.  To say these things are quite expensive is a desperately understated truth.  Still, Jesus gave them knowing that they would create conflict in his life and the lives of those he loved most.  He gave them knowing that he would be despised and rejected unjustly by the very people whom he loved and who should have loved him.

He gave them not out of pride or position.  Jesus gave the most personally painful and self-sacrificing gifts to people on earth because he knew what it was going to take to save them.  He knew that no toy or trinket would do.  No false frivolity – no matter how costly – could compete or compare with the true gifts of his precious time, his truthful teaching, and his willing transparency.

Not everyone wanted Jesus to give these gifts, either.  People were mad.  With the fury of Michal when David danced, people were angry.  Irate, even.  People literally hated Jesus for what he gave.  Why?

Because they themselves were not willing to give those kinds of gifts.  It was a matter of Cain killing Able.  He was showing them up.  They were ridiculously jealous.  They were intensely afraid of him.  Well, not of him, really, just of losing their power, position, and pride because of him.  They had no time, no truth, no transparency in their hearts for Jesus.  They were not the least bit interested in loving enemies, friending inferiors, honestly confessing, or living in a community of accountability.  Just as the innkeepers had no room for his parents upon his arrival, Jesus’ entire life was replete with men and women who simply had no room in their hearts or their real lives for him. After 2000 years, an incidental in Jesus’ being welcome anywhere is still the severe intimidation of the religious folk. 

Jesus is the reason Christmas is so expensive.  Not because we have to purchase outrageously expensive materialistic gifts, but because we are called to give outrageously expensive sacrificial gifts.  We are called to give to one another the very same gifts that our Savior gives to us.

When I woke this morning to pray, the Lord began to teach me these things in His Word and I quickly realized that I simply do not have the resources to continually give these kinds of gifts.  My heart fails me as I consider the single mother my daughter portrays in the play.

 “I don’t know how I’m going to do it this year.  Christmas is just so expensive.  I don’t want the kids to be disappointed.”  

I consider the sacrifices Jesus wants me to make, the extravagant gifts he wants me to give, and the implausible ways he wants me to give them and I repeat her line.  How, Lord?  I don’t know how.  This is expensive.  I don’t want to disappoint you, or them, or anyone.  How can I do what you want me to?

But then I remember my middle daughter’s lines and I am humbled.  I am relieved.  She is Mary.

“God, you have told me that I will carry your child.  I don’t understand this, but I am willing to do your will.  But God, I don’t know what to do.  Joseph is going to be so upset.” 

Lord, I don’t understand this, but I am willing to do your will – even if the people I love most get upset.

Yes, Lord.  Let that be my line, always and ever when you call upon me.  Mary wasn’t asking to be pregnant.  Mary was not expecting to be the mommy of the Savior of the entire world.  Mary was simply living in obedience to God when God chose to give her an extraordinary job.  At the very front of her calling, she knew people would not understand. She didn’t even understand!  She knew people would be upset with her.  But even in all of that, she submitted.  She willingly gave the world exactly what God called her to give and it was unbelievably expensive for her personally.  But consider what Mary’s gift and calling meant for the rest of us.

Jesus is the reason Christmas is so expensive.  Not because we have to purchase outrageously expensive materialistic gifts, but because we are called to give outrageously expensive sacrificial gifts.  We are called to give to one another the very same gifts that our Savior gives to us.

My third daughter will not participate in the play.  She generally does not like to participate in life, period.  She is watching, though.  She will be watching as all the other children perform.  Hopefully, she learns by watching them that participation is necessary if one is going to give the way God calls us to give.  And giving, as a child of God, is not a choice.  It is a requirement.  It is not just what, it is how we give that matters.

So here’s to the kids who taught me my lessons today.  Keep giving, no matter how costly your call to serve Christ may seem to be.  Jesus is the reason Christmas is so expensive.

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manger

This is my body, given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me. 

Mary lived it before Jesus said it.  Both every true martyr and every good mother who have ever lived have embraced it.  It is the purpose of the church and, in this particular kind of giving, the glory of God is displayed to the whole world.

I am not talking about taking communion, although the same things could be said of it.  I am talking about the physical realities of Christ’s Passover statement and command to follow.

Christmas is physical.  Whether it is bags and boxes or babies and choir blouses, everything we do around Christmas requires, at very least, an acknowledgement of the physical.  Many would remind us that if we allow the physical things of Christmas to overshadow the spiritual, we miss it altogether.  While that may be true enough, as the blessed mother of a brand new baby this Christmas season, I believe that it can go both ways.  That is to say so, too, if we miss the physical realities of Christmas and discount their importance, we may just miss the spiritual truths behind them as well.

Let me explain.

What I mean to say is that, with a newborn, I understand in vivid detail this Christmas season some of the same physical realities Mary was feeling when Jesus was born.  From the discomfort long before and the pain days after, I am called to give as she gave.  I am reminded in living color, day and night, of the frustration of a newborn nursing child and the overwhelming demands determined by her needs.  Mary lived out a very physical picture of what it means, not only to receive, but to give a gift like no other.  In agreeing with God about his plan for her and obeying, Mary gave life to the Son of God through the giving of her own body.  Albeit unwillingly in many cases, every mother since Eve has done as much.

When Jesus spoke of giving his body, he was referring to his death on the cross.  That’s Easter,  I know.  How does Christmas fit?  Well.  Thirty-three years before he gave his body in death, Jesus gave his body in life.  Coming down from heaven, his very presentation is the gift we celebrate every Christmas.  This, the gift of all gifts.

While I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to die for Christ, or, for others as he did, I do know something of what it means to live for him.  It, too, is a giving of our bodies.  Whether we are called to martyrdom or motherhood; ministry or mechanics; Macy’s or the city mission, our call is the same.  It is the giving of our bodies for the glory of God.

…and giving our bodies to glorify God in life may just prove more difficult and demanding than to give them in death.

Christ’s body lives on here on earth today.  The church is his physical presence – his body – on earth until he returns.  So, next time you go to take communion and you hear Jesus whisper, “This is my body, given for you,” remember him.  Remember his death, but do also remember his life.  Remember how he came.  Remember Mary.  Remember your mother.  Remember your mission.  Remember that you are his body and your purpose is to be altogether spent giving yourself away for the good of others – just as he was.  In these living sacrifices, we honor and remember him.

How ironic.  Turns out Christmas really is about spending after all. Spend yourself on others like Jesus; like Mary; like martyrs; like mamas.  When you sing your spiritual songs and light your spiritual candles, don’t miss the physical.  Your presence in the practical, the painful, the presents, the parties, and even the picture perfect provisions all have their place if they are done purposefully.  Do all of this in remembrance of Him.

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miajane

My ten year-old walks into the room with a smile.

“What happened to your hair, Mia?”

“I cut it.”

“Why?”

“I wanted to look like you.”

My heart smiles.

“You do look like me.  You looked like me before you did that.  You can’t not look me.  You are mine.  But your hair is crooked.”

“I know.  I tried.”

“I will fix it.  Next time ask me to help you please.”

I read Proverbs 31:10-31.

An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels…She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
    she brings her food from afar…Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come…Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all…”

I am the little girl holding scissors not meant to cut hair.  As my days begin I take to cutting.  Oh, how I long to look like her!  At day’s end I see only a crookedness when I face the mirror.  Another poor attempt to emulate her.

I study the exemplary woman with my husband.  He reminds me of my crookedness.  We fight about past failures.  I feel defeated.  I find my scissors and attempt to fix my long-lived faults once again.

I sit sewing and the antagonist whispers repeatedly, “What happened to you?”

“I tried to cut off what was ugly but I did it wrong.  I wanted to look like the woman in Proverbs 31.”

“Why?”

“I wanted to be like Jesus.”

He laughs at me.

“Your path isn’t straight at all.  Look back.  It’s crooked.”

I begin to cry knowing I am about to go and face her again; knowing she is all that I am not.  I want to close the book.  I want to forget what she looks like.  She is like the photo-shopped models on the magazine cover.  How can I ever become her, Lord?  Maybe the Enemy is right.  Maybe I don’t look anything like her.  Look at me.  I just wanted to be like her.  I wanted to be like you.  So often I’m nothing but a crooked mess.

His grace smiles on me.  He face shines on me.  He lifts up his countenance upon me and gives me peace.

“You do look like me.  You looked like me before you did that.  You can’t not look me.  You are mine.  But you have some crooked places.  I will fix it, child.   Do not worry.  Ask me for help.  You can’t do this by yourself.”

I wipe my tears and I go to hear more of her; to see more of her.  I hand him the scissors and I pray.

“Make my way straight.  I want to look like you.”

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lovejesus

I’ve been thinking on yesterday’s sermon on John 21:15-25 considering why it is that Jesus asked Peter whether he loved him.  Why did he ask so many times?  Aside from the comparison to the thrice denied Christ by Peter, was there another reason for such questioning?  Didn’t Jesus know Peter loved him?  Of course he did. Even Peter said as much. So why?

Jesus’ interrogation was for Peter’s sake.  It was for our sake.  Jesus’ is showing us something about how to love.  He is showing us what the love of God looks like, both by restoring an unlovable failure and by teaching him what love looks like in the face of his failure.

Christ is conveying these truths about how we must love by telling Peter to feed his lambs (twice), tend his sheep, and adding that no one else’s call is relevant to his call which is to simply follow him:

Loving me is other-centered, Peter Lori.

Loving me is not a popularity contest, Peter Lori.

Loving me is not a power trip Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with pride, Peter Lori.

Loving me is sacrificial service, Peter Lori.

Loving me is willingness to suffer, Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with competition and comparison, Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with your leading, Peter Lori.

Loving me is following wherever I lead, Peter Lori.

These are the things you failed to understand before.  That is why you fell.

Peter had grief over this interaction.  He had a certain sadness over Jesus’ questioning and doubtless his own culpability and regret.  He still had questions and some residual contest with his contemporaries in this heart.  Still, Peter was changed.  He was humbled.  By the power of God, Peter did follow Christ and change the world through his restored witness.

The grace displayed by God and the gospel toward Peter here is tremendous.  I know because the grace displayed by God and the gospel towards me, too, is tremendous.

I have been a doubter, a denier, an egotist, and a bombastic, just like Peter.  I look back with grief and a certain sadness.  When the Lord reveals the hard parts of his plan, I still pine over senseless questions about fairness and folly sprouting from a sinful nature .  I don’t know about Peter, but my biggest fear is falling away again.  What if my call is that which I find most unfavorable?  What if his love isn’t enough to keep me and what if I don’t really love him the way I think I do; the way I want to; the way he calls me to?

Foolish doubts and fears rooted in distrust and unbelief are silenced by the truth.  I know that he is the sustainer of all things, including my salvation.  I will not fear.

For Peter, martyrdom and death was the fear that caused his betrayal.  Peter’s restoration is proof that perseverance is possible.  He was afraid to die when he denied Christ, but later he died indeed for Christ by the power of God.

The love of God changes people.  It makes the unwilling, willing; the unloving, loving; the prideful, humble; the doubting, trust.  Our hope is found in forgetting our failures, formulas, fears, and trusting him to keep us from falling.  Our hope is found in following Christ wherever he leads.

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mercy

Like a single song lyric stuck on loop in my mind, I wake with a verse.  “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

It’s Sunday.  Upon arrival at church we’re met with a request to fill in and teach the children’s Sunday school class.  With no lesson and nothing prepared, I muse at God’s provision.  Well, I’ve got a verse.  Curiously, we open to Matthew 9:13.

“Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.  For I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners.”

“What does it mean?” I think to myself.

I listen as the mechanic reads the context to the kids.  It is the calling of Matthew – a man who was hated for his profession.  Matthew – a tax collector who doubtless made a habit of lying, cheating, and stealing from the have-nots and the hard-working.  Jesus – the God of all creation called him away from a life of deceitful money-loving idolatry and into his very own small group of close disciples.

Matthew listened.  He followed.  He quit his unpopular job.  He threw a great feast for all his unpopular, crooked, money-loving friends and had Jesus be the keynote speaker.  Pretty impressive for a new convert, I’d say.

Still, there were some who were less than impressed.  There were some who were angry that a man who claimed to be of God would entertain such a motley crew.  They were none other than the most religious men of the day – the Pharisees.

It was to these men that Jesus spoke the words, “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.”

The one requirement for following Christ is being a sinner.  Of course we all are, but Jesus’ point here is that only some of us know it.  It is the those who find their identity and most closely associate themselves with the church that have the highest risk of self-righteous fellow sinner snubbing.  It is those who should be known as “Churchians” rather than Christians.  It is they who seem to have a secret club, clique, and code which wholly excludes anyone who is not so shiny on the outside.  The problem is that these ones are not shiny on the inside.  They are jealous and full of animosity towards others unlike themselves.  They have no regard for what – or who – Jesus wants.  They offer “sacrifice” to God for show and the praise of men but they treat others with ignorance, exclusion, contempt, and biased injustice.

Matthew Henry says, “They are very strict in avoiding sinners, but not in avoiding sin; none greater zealots for the form of godliness, nor greater enemies to the power of it.”

If we are honest, we have to admit that there are times in all of our lives that we encounter people with whom we would rather not engage.  As Christians, though, we really aren’t at liberty to pick and choose.  When Christ puts a soul in front of us, we have a great responsibility to serve them in whatever way he calls us to.  Don’t have that burden?  Repent.

Jesus has news for the “No sinners allowed people hater club.”  He exposes them by pointing to the fact that not associating with sinners – whatever brand you most dislike – is hardly a sacrifice.  Of all the grandiose, pompous, showy sacrifices they made, this was yet another piece of detestable garbage to God.

Jesus proves that he is in the business of mercy.  Mercy responds when called to a feast full of lost sinners – even if there’s a feast full of self-righteous teachers going on at the same time.  Mercy spends its time saving those who do not deserve to be associated with.  Mercy includes the worst of sinners because it understands that excluding people from its sacred circle is no sacrifice.  No.  That is utter selfishness, self-protection, and pride.  Mercy, by definition, is an offering one gives that is undeserved – the opposite of what is deserved, even.  That is why it is called mercy.

The name “Matthew” means “the gift of God.”  We are the gift of God to others – not our shiny, showy, so-called sacrifices.  When God calls us, his call is all enveloping.  It is all of life.  If you find yourself immersed in a sea of Churchians content to mingle among themselves, excuse yourself.  Find some sick.  Leave the pretend healthy people and begin offering the Great Physician to those who know their need.  Invite them into the parts of your life that are outside of the proper protocol of a weekly handshake, hello, and see you next week (but hopefully not until.) If God has been merciful to you, be merciful to others who don’t deserve it any more than you did.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be the one unwelcome than the one unwell.  Christ expects us to be merciful to sinners because he is merciful to we who are sinners.  When we are not, it proves than we, neither, have received mercy.

“Christ came not with an expectation of succeeding among the righteous, those who conceit themselves so, and therefore will sooner be sick of their Savior, than sick of their sins, but among the convinced humble sinners; to them Christ will come, for to them he will be welcome.” ~Matthew Henry

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