Will the real sinner please stand up?

August 26, 2014

…When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?”  (Luke 7:42)

It is true that some of the greatest Christians were once the greatest sinners. As we read the seventh chapter of Luke (verses 36-50), we cannot help but think of The Confessions of Saint Augustine.  It is not necessary to sin much to love God – we should be careful not to give that impression.  There is really nothing good about sin… It it true, however, that the truly repentant contrite sinner can love much because he (or she) has been forgiven much.  This was a driving force in the lives of King David, the Apostle Paul and Saint Augustine.

At issue here are the condescending thoughts of this Pharisee toward the woman (who is washing Jesus’ feet.)  As he compares himself, the Pharisee is self-righteous.  Like his colleague in Luke 18, he is looking upon this woman with an attitude, “I thank God I am not as other people are – sinners!”  The question of Jesus focuses this for him and for us.  The Pharisee was the man who had been forgiven the smaller debt, which means he saw his sin as a very small thing. This teaching also focuses that the way we perceive ourselves has a profound effect upon how we perceive others.  Positively and negatively our self-image is a strong force in our horizontal, interpersonal relationships.

The subtle message of Jesus to this Pharisee is that the real sinner at that luncheon was not the woman whose sin was obvious and known to everybody.  His message to her was the good news, that, because of her faith, her sins were forgiven.  When the real sinner stood up at that luncheon, however, he was a sinner named, “Simon, the Pharisee.”

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.137)

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us sinners.”


Microscope or Telescope?

April 23, 2013

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7: 1-5)

According to Jesus relationships are a two way street.  If you look at others under a microscope they will put you under a microscope and you will not like that.  If you look at others through a telescope they will look at you through a telescope and you will be far more comfortable with that arrangement.

When you give to people whatever standard of measurement you use they will use when they give to you.  It is your call.  Will you give with a thimble or by the truckload?

This passage shows that Jesus had a sense of humor.  Imagine a person with a one by six plank sticking out of their eye while they believe they are called to find specks of sawdust in the eyes of others.

Since this passage begins with the two words judge not many believe we’re never to judge others.  Consider this passage carefully and you will understand it is not teaching that at all.

This teaching of Jesus is telling us to judge.  It is telling us to judge ourselves first and as we relate to others decide if it is going to be a microscope or a telescope?


Specks and Planks

June 15, 2012

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7: 3-5 NIV)

Jesus had a great sense of humor; I have long imagined He spoke these words with a smile on His face.  They are, however, very wise and profound words.  The way we perceive other people has everything to do with our relationships with them.

The story is told of two psychiatrists who rode the same subway every day to their office building.  Every morning one got off the elevator at the sixth floor and the other at the tenth floor.  One morning before the sixth floor psychiatrist got off the elevator he spit in the face of the other psychiatrist.  This happened every morning that week. On Friday the elevator operator asked the tenth floor psychiatrist, “Aren’t you going to do something about this?” He responded, “That’s not my problem.  That’s his problem.  He has a problem.  He spits on people.  But that’s not my problem.  He needs to get his head read.”

Very few of us are that secure.  But if we were we would know that it takes a strong person to not retaliate.  If we have a wholesome and positive evaluation of ourselves, and others with whom we have relationships, we would not play games like specks and planks.