God’s Standard; December 16, 2019

Matthew 5:46 “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”

The whole Sermon on the Mount lays out a standard that seems impossibly high to us, simply because it is, so long as we are relying just on ourselves. God wants to teach us to rely on Him, because only then are we transformed into the children of God that He created us to be. We have popular songs that glorify the “natural man,” (or “natural woman”) when God wants us to be supernatural! As Paul said rather sharply to the Corinthians, “Are you not acting like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3) The point is, someone who is in Christ is no longer a “mere man,” but rather a representative of the Creator, expressing His love, grace, and power. To drive that point home, Jesus used the stereotype of a “bad man” in that day: a tax collector. In reading this it’s important to remember that one of His original 12 disciples, the very one that wrote this Gospel, was a tax collector when Jesus called him. That’s the sort of thing Paul was talking about when he said, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11) If you don’t like who you are and what you are, then give yourself to Jesus! Again and again the Bible talks about how God doesn’t use those who are sure they would be valuable to Him, but rather those who think they aren’t worth using, but God is powerful enough to do it anyway. Moses had to be knocked down from being a prince of Egypt by being a shepherd for 40 years before he was available to God, and even then he tried to get out of it because of a speech impediment. Paul literally had to be knocked off of his high horse! We get all puffed up because of what we can do or what we have, forgetting how utterly trivial that is compared to God. We forget that God’s standard is, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

I have just had a strong lesson in this, and at this point it doesn’t feel very good. This year’s City Christmas, which was yesterday, was organized and operated by a lay committee, when in the past I largely ran the show. Because of differing styles and personalities, I had a major miscommunication with the committee chairperson, and I did not respond well at all. A major task for this morning is apology on my part. It doesn’t matter if I felt demanded of or humiliated, because it’s not about me. I’m sure my attitude was evident to all who were watching, and that is hardly good. Now I need God’s wisdom and anointing to communicate my repentance effectively, so that at least my relationship with that individual won’t be ruptured. They are certainly not “a tax collector,” but I was perhaps acting like one. I have a lot of room to grow, and yesterday was powerful evidence of that.

Father, thank You for all You allow me to experience, however painful it might be at the moment. I ask You to use my mistakes and even my sins for blessing, as only You can, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

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