As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)
These five lines of scripture are powerful in their direction for our lives and in our relationship with God.
The first message that jumps out is that Jesus invites all of us to share His presence in our lives, regardless of who we are, regardless of what we may have done in the past, or how confused our present life may be. Jesus does not judge us or condemn us: instead, he invites into His home, shares himself with us and invites us to share ourselves with Him.
So too, we are to emulate him in not judging others.
That’s hard for most. As we grow into adulthood, we properly form a set of beliefs and behaviors that fit us. Nothing wrong with that. Where it does not work is when we not only believe “our way” is right for us but begin to label others and to judge others because they do not think or behave as we do.
Think about the essence of being a Christian.
It is certainly more than doctrine, precepts, and commandments. It is first and foremost a relationship – a relationship of trust, affection, commitment, loyalty, faithfulness, kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, mercy, helpfulness, encouragement, support, strength, protection, and so many other qualities that bind people together in mutual love and unity.
Those characteristics and quality are the marks of an authentic believer in Christ.
What’s the reward for living those qualities?
A reward like no other.
God offers us the greatest of relationships – union of heart, mind, and spirit with himself, the very author and source of love (1 John 4:8,16). God’s love never fails, never forgets, never compromises, never lies, never lets us down nor disappoints us. His love is consistent, unwavering, unconditional, unrelenting and unstoppable. There is no end to his love. Nothing in this world can make him leave us, ignore us, or withhold from us his merciful love and care (Romans 8:31-39). He will love us no matter what. It is his nature to love. That is why he created us – to be united with him and to share in his love.
How could any person possibly walk away from that? A living and eternal relationship with none other than God!
He is the true source of all relationships. God wants all of our relationships to be rooted in his love and goodness.
Each of can do that. How? By allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our heart, mind, and will so that we can love freely and generously as God has loved us. That is worth of both prayer and conversation with God.
Today let each of us embrace humility, love and mercy towards others just as Jesus has taught us. Let us prioritize our neighbors than ourselves and God in heaven will reward us in equal measure.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, You have taught us to be humble, loving and merciful to our neighbors. Strengthen our hearts and souls so that we may never waver away from this solemn call to unconditionally serve others from our hearts.”
Through Jesus Christ we become brothers and sisters – members of God’s family
Lucian of Antioch (240-312 AD), an early Christian martyr once said that “a Christian’s only relatives are the saints”- namely those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and adopted as sons and daughters of God. Those who have been baptized into Jesus Christ and who live as his disciples enter into a new family, a family of “saints” here on earth and in heaven. Jesus changes the order of relationships and shows that true kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood. It is living a relationship rooted in love.