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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Casting Stones at the Sins of Others

Mark 2:16-17 (ESV)
16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Does anyone see the irony in this? The people who criticized Jesus for eating with sinners were also sinners. The law which they inadequately kept convicted them. However, their own efforts to be flawless with the law gave them a false sense of perfection since the law was given to reveal its own inability to provide perfection. Yet, they, who should have been able to see better than any others, instead looked at others sins rather than their own.

Isn’t that the way it always is? The person who gossips reports on the gossips in the church. The person who has trouble with forgiveness castigates others who can’t forgive. The person who is doing nothing sets himself up as the judge of someone who has failed to do something. Generally, people criticize those who have their same flaws. I suppose “it takes one to know one” must apply.

Before I criticize another I need to ask whether or not I have that problem.

I know that the point of the story may have been that Jesus came for the sick rather than the healthy. I just find it ironic that some sick people are calling themselves healthy. They are ready and able to throw another person under the bus if it means they can keep riding themselves. Maybe they think that pointing out another others’ ugliness will make them look more beautiful.

I did a wedding several years ago on the lawn of one of the mansions reserved for such occasions in Nashville. Before the ceremony many of the guests were openly drinking alcohol. I thought, “At this rate, they will be drunk before the wedding begins!” I was incensed and went off by my myself to complain to the Lord about how I had gotten myself into this situation.

It is not often that the Lord speaks to me in such a way that I would swear was audible if I didn’t know better but this is exactly what happened. He said, “These are the people I have sent you to!” That certainly shut me up.

I was looking at their sins and thinking I was sinless. I was tacitly saying that I was above them. The Lord reminded me that they needed the same Savior that I needed.

Or was it the other way around? I am certainly glad that I wasn't there when the woman caught in adultery stood before Jesus. I am afraid I would have cast the first stone.


Anthony Chia said...

Indeed, we must always bear in mind that all had fallen; and Jesus came because of that. In other words, none does NOT need Jesus, to go to Heaven. In this sense, everyone was sick, and many are still. Recently, I have read a little more on such jargons as Definite Atonement and Universal Atonement; to me, Jesus is the atonement (propitiation) for the world, available to everyone, but still atonement needs to be appropriated. When one appropriates it, he has the atonement; if he does NOT, he does NOT have it. John Piper stresses the special-ness of the saved (believers or the church), and he is NOT wrong. Yet it is NOT God’s love for a believer is more than His love for a non-believer; it is God’s love is love unto righteousness (`ahab love). It is that God’s love is constrained by His own holiness and righteousness; it is you are NOT receiving His love if you choose unrighteousness. I wrote in my blog about God’s love is max out; like a beam of light. When you stay off the beam, you receive NOT His love, but His love is there. When we understand God’s love this way, we understand also why it is right to say that we cannot make God love us more, or that God’s love for an individual fluctuates. It fluctuates only from your perspective, NOT from His. For eg., you perceive it He has now loved you less when He does NOT meet your request, but as far as God is concerned, He loves you all the same (max. out), but He does NOT grant because your request is NOT righteous. Yes, God draws, but it is still generally, “All is done, so you would come …”

When we realise God hates the sins, but love the sinners all the same (NOT less than His love for us, believers), we appreciate we have to reach out to the sinners.

I believe Mark 2:17 was NOT intended to say there are those who are righteous (without needing the atonement from Jesus), and there are those who are sinners, and Jesus came for the latter only. As the elaboration by Ps Prentis indicated, actually all were sinners, but the scribes of the Pharisees did NOT want Him, and He went to the other sinners. I commonly say it, “One of the most difficult categories of people to help, are those who do NOT think they are sick, when they are indeed sick. Why? They don’t want the “doctor”; they don’t see a need for the doctor!” It was so, in Jesus’ time, and it is still so, for us, today.

The other common observation made, is the “the pot calling the kettle black”. It is an idiom to describe the scenario of a guilty person pointing to another guilty of the same wrongdoing that he himself is guilty of, in attempt to draw the spotlight away from him. The former normally would have no problem singling out the person to point to, for it is also generally true, “it takes one to know one”. Concerning this, Jesus said, “You hypocrite, …” Jesus said in Matt 7:3-5, such people, they have log in their own eye, but they are NOT dealing with that first, before they try to remove the speck in another’s eye. The Apostle Paul’s advice to us, in 2 Cor 13:5, we are to self-examine to see if we are in the faith. And Paul, in calling for self-discipline, said this (1 Cor 9:26-27): “26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

In practice, there are 2 problematic issues:

1. Over-simplification of the above had led to many believers (a) NOT exercising judgment concerning spiritual matter, and think that they are justified; and (b) using this as an excuse of not bothering with what is going on, around them.

2. Pastors and teachers “feeling bad”, because they are NOT perfect enough to speak into some circumstances, because they have a stem (maybe, NOT a trunk!) in their own eyes, or that, they would be like what the idiom said, “the pot calling the kettle black”. 1 Tim 5:17 said “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” Why? Double honors, I reckon it is tough on them; they got to “work hard” at above reproach, and they get to get things right, so as to teach rightly. There are of course, practical ways, too, to handle some of the “misfit” settings, like get another to step in, on a particular issue. Of course, still, the pastors and teachers must work hard on, being holy as God is holy, and get their theology right, especially, the core theology of the faith.

Sometimes, I feel I may be stepping on dangerous ground, profess to teach, and correct even, through my blog, and through commenting on other people’s blogs; there again, there seems to be unction to do these things, and indication seems NOT the reverse (to stop). While it exacts a lot out of me (because I got to study the Word, a lot more than many; research more, meditate more, and be sensitive to the Spirit more, and exercise self-control and restraint, more perfectly), I have gained a lot. But I must always remember, it is NOT how smart I am (that I am right and some others, wrong), but is about the truths of God, and what He wants. I also must remember I must NOT quarrel over disagreements as to what are written or discussed. Lastly, if the Lord wants me to stop, I have to.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Craig Godfrey said...

Very true.

Paul nailed it when he said that he was the greatest of sinners. He was wrong - I trump him on so many counts...