2013-08-08 - Study, Practice and Teach
Part 2 ~ Practice: Our Way of Thinking
Luke 18:11-13 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.
We witness with our lives very often before anything else.
There are two men presented. One is a Pharisee. He is honored as a Doctor of the Law. The second is a tax collector. He is a servant of the occupying Roman government. He is despised as a traitor by his own people.
Please count the number of times "I" is used in verses eleven and twelve by the Pharisee. This gentleman has an I problem. His focus is on making sure he does everything to be good enough in keeping the Law. Without meaning to do so he is living a lie. It is not the things we do or don't do that make us righteous. Find Isaiah 64:5-7. Even the very very best efforts we put forward are like filthy rags before God. He knows our hearts and our intentions and loves our praises and prayers offered to Him. But there is not one thing we can do to add to the work that Jesus did on the cross to save and cleanse us from sin and overcome death. That work was total and complete without our efforts.
This tax collector will not stand in public praying but stands back painfully aware of his failings. He asks only for mercy (what God gives) with his head bowed. There is no comparison of his standing to other people. The one he is concerned with is his standing with God. He sees his state for what it is - wholly dependent on the Lord unable to help himself in any way.
One of the early things Jesus in His ministry was to attend a party in His honor thrown by Matthew, a tax collector who would become one of the twelve disciples. The party was attended by other tax collectors, harlots and others that this Pharisee was sure he compared favorably with in his mind. Jesus mixed with the other guests, told them stories in the form of parables and ate, drank and probably laughed with them. In their hearts they knew they were in need of spiritual help and this itinerant Rabi was one of the few who would even talk with them. Jesus took the opportunity to give them hope. He let them know the path they thought was closed to them was actually wide open.
It is in the greatest spirit of humility and my own inclusion I say these things. We are not the ones who should stand in judgment. The longer I live the more I know I can not know who God is calling. We are only made worthy by Jesus' great sacrifice that was done for the world, which happens to include us. He called us just like He called the woman caught in adultery. It was nothing we or she had done to be worthy that drew Him to us. He says the same thing to us as He did to her - Go and sin no more.
We are told to go and tell the nations and make disciples. The Holy Spirit will draw them to the Christ. He will prepare the way before we meet anyone He is reaching out to with salvation.
This is the ground work - realigning our way of thinking to understanding how dependent we are on Christ. It needs to be clear how helpless we are without Him and the Holy Spirit who is been given as a guide and prompter to help us walk the walk, and talk the talk. In this understanding we can share the grace and mercy we have been shown. Just like a doctor practices medicine, we must practice Christianity - which includes study, practice and patience.
Lord - keep us humble and our vision clear that we are dependent on You. Holy Spirit guide and guard our hearts and minds. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.