According to the gospels Jesus interacted with four key groups:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit”, he declared, because he came to redeem sinners, not those who counted on their own goodness.
And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.
[other helpful scriptures: 1 Timothy 1:12-15, Matthew 11:19, Matthew 11:25, Luke 18:9-14]
For those of us who’ve been Christians for a long time it can be easier to think like a Pharisee than someone who knows they’re a forgiven and thankful sinner. Try reading the Gospel in that light, it’s very convicting. Give yourself a spiritual check against Matthew 23:1-25.
Let’s take the fourth verse as an example:
They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Do we lay heavy burdens on people? The heart of the pastor should be to guide and help people through. We can use bibles as good ‘gnat-strainers’ and ‘gnat-swatters’ but we must apply these truths to ourselves first.
Then let’s take verse 25:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
This calls us to check our motives. What goes on inside when people speak well of us? Does the person people see on the surface match who you really are inside?
I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.
Let’s know our need, and let’s trust his great grace. Let’s not rush first to be “right”, setting ourselves over others. Then let’s live like Jesus, laying our lives down for one another out of thankful love to God.