May 30, 2015

Luke 10:29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

This teacher of the Law sounds like most of us! We are all very interested in justifying ourselves, not wanting to admit just how wrong we are. However, God sees through that without even trying. Instead of accepting correction and making changes, we dig in our heels and insist we are right. Among people, one person is as likely to be right as another, but before God, He is always right, and we had better remember it! The best thing about this man trying to justify himself was that it caused Jesus to tell one of His best-loved parables. “Good Samaritan” has entered the vocabulary and even the law books, protecting people who seek to help others out of the goodness of their hearts. This teacher of the Law was doubtless an upstanding member of the community, respected by all who knew him, but he was just as human as the rest of us. It is a hard thing to grasp that we are none of us perfect before God, which makes us all equally in need of the cleansing, atoning blood of Jesus Christ. When we have received that by faith, then and only then do we have righteousness in Him and standing before God the Father. From that point on, our lives are exercises in seeking to “live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received.” (Ephesians 4:1) Like Paul we struggle with that, as he famously recorded in Romans 7. We need to be honest about that part as well, with ourselves and with God, and not be proud in our dealings with anyone, but extend the grace that we ourselves have received because we had no hope without it.

I can never forget God’s grace in showing me the condition of my heart over 40 years ago. Growing up steeped in the Bible and the knowledge of God I was baptized at age seven, but the reality of grace and the fact that I had no hope without it didn’t sink in very deep. Repentance was not my strong suit! When God showed that to me I was devastated, but His action could not have been kinder. I tend to draw back from confrontation, not wanting to hurt people and not wanting them to dislike me. That benefits neither them nor me! Knowing how much I benefited from God confronting me, I need to be willing for Him to use me in confronting others, and leave the consequences up to Him. I am certainly not to run around accusing, but I am to speak God’s truth in love at all times, whether or not that truth, or even that love, are welcomed. I am to accept God’s love for me and let that love flow through me unhindered to those around me, whatever form that needs to take.

Father, I didn’t expect to write on confrontation when I started from the story of the Good Samaritan! Thank You for speaking what we need to hear, even in unexpected ways. Thank You for the magnificent things You are doing in this church. I pray that I would be available to You on every level for what You want to do, both accepting Your work in me and being Your agent toward others, so that together we may be transformed into the Body that You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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