Luke 21:34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”
It struck me as I was reading this just now that Jesus was talking to people who were following Him, yet He mentioned dissipation, drunkenness, and anxiety. To me that says that some people whom “religious” people have written off might well be genuine Christians. Certainly not wise Christians, but heirs of eternal life even so. We are not to excuse such behavior, but neither are we to cross people off because of their mistakes. Incidentally, the “dissipation” mentioned here is the same term applied to the Prodigal Son, who spent his money on prostitutes. Paul roundly and rightly condemns such behavior, (1 Corinthians 6:15-16) but it is something that can be repented of. Ephesians 5 needs to be our guide. Many areas are covered there, but the guiding principle is in verse 15: “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise.” I am reminded of something I read by the late Jamie Buckingham about drinking alcohol. He realized that as a Christian he was free to do so, but at the same time there was a distinct possibility that his doing so would cause someone else to stumble, so even drinking in moderation wasn’t the course of wisdom and love. That said, I think we tend to exclude many people the Lord does not. We are to teach and admonish, but we are to love as we have been loved by God, and that covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
I grew up in a strictly tea-totaling home, and frankly, very few alcoholic drinks I’ve tried have tasted good to me. I consider that a blessing! I have seen countless examples of people condemning unwise behavior in others while ignoring their own, (Matthew 7:3-5) and I have fallen into that trap myself. I am not to condone or excuse sins, but I am to forgive them. There is a huge difference, and I must not let the devil blind me to it. At this point in my life some people are put off by my being so “holy,” thinking they could never be like me and so not trying. I am not to “get in the mud” with them, but I am to make it as clear as possible that it is only by the grace of God that I am as I am, and that same grace is available to all who will receive it. I stumble even now, certainly, but they don’t see that. I’m not to go around “bragging” of my sins, but like Isaiah I am to walk in the humility that comes from seeing the holiness of God. (Isaiah 6:5) I am to be an open channel of His love and grace to all, so that as many as possible may be drawn into His kingdom, His family.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I deal with people all over the spiritual spectrum. Keep me from pegging them in a particular place in that spectrum, or even trying to. Help me rather love them as they are and where they are, without being content to leave them there. That’s what You did when You sent Jesus. Keep me from distorting that love. Rather, help me transmit it clearly and strongly, so that many may be brought from darkness to light, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!