Sunday, January 26, 2014

Grumbling from the Outside

The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?" (Luke 5:30 NASB)

The scribes and Pharisees were unhappy about being excluded, but the second part of the sticking point for them was the people who were included. They couldn't believe the sorry lot of sinners who were welcomed to the table! That party was full of the biggest sinners in town! Even worse, they were having fun, and Jesus was right in the middle of the fun!

Scripture gave specific instructions about certain nations with whom they should not associate. About other Israelites, this is what it says:
"'You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. 'You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:15, 17, 18 NASB)

Oops! The scribes and Pharisees hated their fellow countrymen and they did not love the "sinners" at Matthew's party, even though those sinners were there specifically to meet Jesus. It turns out that the scribes and Pharisees were just another bunch of sinners. Pride. What a problem pride makes when we indulge in it. Because they thought they were better than Matthew's guests, they had sinned in their pride and their judgmental spirit, but they had also missed the party with Jesus. 

That's an awful consequence of a bad attitude, isn't it? It's easy, in our concern for friends and loved ones, to think their particular brand of sin is much worse than ours, but is it? It's one thing to reprove the sin, but it's another thing entirely to disdain the sinner, especially one who has "come to the party to meet Jesus". The Law says, "Love your neighbor as yourself" and that's where we should start. 

Pray that we will love our neighbors as ourselves and that our love for Christ and others will be obvious, attractive, and welcoming to our loved ones.