Did you find a way to show practical love? How did it make you feel about your walk with God? Did it make you want to continue the adventure?
Jesus didn’t call us to show love to only those in our social circle. He called us to love everyone. In His day, the outcast and hated person was the tax collector. Who is the outcast in your social circle? Think of one specific person, or group of people, as you apply Jesus’ teaching to this area of your life.
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matt 9:9-13 (ESV)
Not only did Jesus eat with a hated tax collector, He also called one to be a disciple! Do you envision the disciples as pious and righteous men worthy of service to a Holy God? Well, they weren’t. They were men who had the same needs, desires, and sin natures as we do. Yet Jesus called them to be His. He showed no distinction of class. He didn’t look for specific social standing. Jesus looked at a person’s heart and called those who truly sought Him. Should we not behave the same toward those individuals or groups that we find less than savory?
In this story, we see two types of people: those who were eating with Jesus (the sinners) and the Pharisees (the righteous). Why do you think that Jesus said that He came to call sinners and not the righteous? Have you ever acted “holier than thou”? How has that affected your ability to show God’s love?
How has this week’s study affected the way you think about others? The way you choose to act toward people not of your “class” or “social standing”? Will you choose to act less like a Pharisee and more like a child of God?
Do you sometimes feel your prayers aren’t being answered? Could it be because your unloving actions toward others doesn’t please God, and so your prayers are hindered?
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. 1 John 3:21-24 (ESV)
As we close week 5, I pray that you will choose to memorize 1 John 3:24. It will help you through those times when you just – don’t – want – to – love.
We have one more week of this study, and then we’re on to a study in living victoriously when times are tough. I pray that this study will continue to bless you, and that the things you have learned will be burned into your heart so your actions reflect life as a child of God.
How’s the Bible reading? Are you keeping up? I hope so. This week we’re reading more Psalms and learning that the writers didn’t always feel so victorious themselves. We see anguish and depression as well as joy and victory. I pray that you’ll stop by the other blog – readthroughthebiblechallenge.blogspot.com – and post your comments about how the Word is helping you every day!
See you next week.