Luke 15:1-2 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
It disturbed the Pharisees that Jesus would spend time with people who were “sinners”. They accused Him as though Jesus were hanging out with them to be one of them, but Jesus’ purpose was for the lost to know Him and to be saved. He had no intentions of leading them to believe that their lifestyles were ok, He was very clear that their lifestyles were wrong and they needed to turn from the lifestyles they were accustomed to and live lives that were pleasing to God. The sinners were actually open to the truth that Jesus was the Son of God and that is why He took time to show them the way.
In Luke chapter 14, verse 34, it tells us that Jesus said, “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
So, what can we take from all of this today?
If you are, for whatever reason, (work, friendship, family, etc.) finding yourself in the middle of people who are lost, who don’t know Him, be sure you are not losing your influence on them. Don’t become so much like the rest of the world that they can’t see a difference. Why do you think the tax collectors and sinners were all drawn to Jesus? It was because He was different than the religious leaders that had become “nut cases” in their time, caring more about appearances than they did about what was going on in their hearts. He was different and something inside them told them that He was their answer. Dare to be different enough in your behaviors and attitudes that others will know that whatever it is you have, it is a difference that they want and need in their lives.
I have noticed that too often Christians seem to rely so much on the fact that we live in the day of Grace that they overlook verses that tell us that once we are no longer different than the world, we are rather useless for God to use. God is gracious and He is patient, but He won’t look away forever if you are a Christian and you are living in rebellion, He will discipline you because He loves you. That is what people want to overlook ~ a good parent disciplines for the sake of the child, they give grace when they can but not forever if a child is being rebellious, God is a by far better parent than we are. You can always be sure that “your sin will be found out” (Numbers 32:23b), and if you are at a point where you are refusing to repent and turn from that sin and make things right with those you have sinned against including God, you are walking on dangerous ground. Just like we are expected when we participate in “The Lord’s Supper” or “Communion” we are to examine ourselves and we are to take Him seriously and His death on the cross for our sins seriously, we need to examine ourselves daily. (1 Cor. 11: 30-32, “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”) Apparently our heart condition can reach a point where we cannot be used because of our unwillingness to repent, and if the discipline isn’t working in our lives, “many sleep”. I would encourage you to not get to the point where God’s grace is no longer effective in your life. If you are past that and now His discipline isn’t seeming to make a difference either, think about it; just how far are you willing to push a Holy God?
(Side note: every time something is going wrong in someone’s life, it doesn’t mean they are being disciplined, sometimes life just happens because we live in an imperfect world and there are seasons of going through the “wilderness” when God is using it to help that person grow into all He created them to be! You are not the judge and jury so tread lightly)
So, I challenge you today to dare to be different! Dare to have a positive influence on everyone around you! Dare to stand out! If you have been living in rebellion ~ repent and make it right with everyone you have sinned against, don’t die in your sin! If you know someone who is living in rebellion, pray for them to come back to living a life for God and choose to be a godly influence in their lives, not with a condemning attitude but an attitude of wanting to draw them back to God! Start living a life today that will make a difference and then you can know that truly the best is yet to come!
Quote: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Chinese Proverb