Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Matthew 9:9-13 "Not Good Enough"

Read Matthew 9:9-13.

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” NIV

I don’t know how many times I have heard, “But I’m not good enough to receive Jesus into my heart.” Well, here’s a great passage to show that Jesus isn’t looking for “the good.” In fact, that would be a futile search for there is no one that is good. We are all born with a sinful nature; we all fall into temptation. It’s just that some have run from God for longer so they may carry more visible scars of their rebellion. But even the greatest saint has sinned and though their scars may not be visible, they will carry them forever on the inside.

Jesus strongly declares that he came for the sinners, not the righteous. I love the saying I’ve heard my husband say many times – Jesus doesn’t clean his fish before he catches them. The clean up part of our lives will usually come gradually. Some make a dramatic and radical change in their life overnight. But I don’t believe that is the norm – at least not in the American culture. And the change can’t be out of just following the “Christian rules” so you can remain a Christian and still get to heaven. That is a common misconception. True and lasting change comes from a love for God and surrender to Him as Master and Lord. If you truly love someone, and I mean that I-will-give-you-my-all kind of love, you will do for them anything they ask, just because you love them. That’s how Christians grow – we learn more and more about Christ and His love for us and as we do, we are compelled out of love to serve Him and to live as much like Him as possible.

I was watching a vocal training DVD yesterday and one of the exercises he prescribed is listening to an artist you admire and would like to sound like. You listen to their song with the song sheet in front of you and mark up the music to note where they have vibrato and where they sing straight; where they breathe. You underline the words where they bend the pitch. By studying their patterns, you learn their style. Then you record yourself singing the song and compare the two. If you don’t do a part of the style the same as they do, you start over working on that area until you are imitating them.

A Christian grows in much of the same way. We read God’s Word, study Christ’s life, absorb His love for people, listen to the guidance of His Spirit – and through that become more like Him. Did we start out that way? Absolutely not! He takes us with all our bad notes and faulty breathing and annoying vibrato. Then we grow and change as we allow Him to mold us into His likeness. And He can do that for anyone who is willing to surrender to Him and receive His gift of grace and the presence of His Holy Spirit.

The vocal trainer said that it is not the goal to be just like the musician you admire, but to learn from their expertise by imitating their style. That’s where the analogy breaks down. I want to be just like Christ.

Further Thoughts:

  1. Do you think you are too far gone to follow Christ, or better said, for Christ to accept you? In Jesus' day, tax collectors were right down there with the scum of the earth. They were thought of as traitors because they worked for the Romans and were corrupt. Not only did Christ forgive Matthew of His sins, but He drew him into His personal circle of twelve. Jesus demonstrated an example of complete acceptance. He loves you and desires to have a relationship with you. Will you accept His gift?
  2. Have you been hanging out with any “tax collectors and sinners” lately? Christ does not call us to sit back in our cushy pews beside our loving brothers and hang out. He calls us to go out to reach others. But we can’t do that if we are cloistered away. Read Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 1:16-18.
  3. Jesus tells the Pharisees in vs. 13: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Jesus is quoting Hosea 6:6. Read the chapter and as He told the Pharisees, figure out what it means. How does it relate to serving and living out of love rather than duty? What was Israel’s downfall?
  4. Find Scriptures that say we are to be like Christ. Start with Ephesians 5:1-2.
  5. What is our primary way to love Him? Support with Scripture. Read 1 John 3:11-24.
  6. Spend time today just loving the Lord – with words, with actions, in song, in thoughts….

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