There are people who are difficult to love, and there are people who like to look down on others, thinking more highly of themselves than they should. Joe’s sermon last week focused on Zacchaeus, a tax collector who we can assume was difficult to love, as tax collectors were in that day. Jesus was moved by Zacchaeus’ desire to see Him, going to the extent of humbling himself by climbing a tree just to catch a glimpse of the Lord. Jesus was so moved by Zacchaeus’ determination, that He went to his house to break bread and spend time with the despised tax collector.
People saw this and grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Did you catch the disconnect? We have a group of sinners looking down their noses at another sinner, calling him a sinner, as if to assume that they, themselves are somehow any better. They are overlooking the log in their own eye to focus on the speck that is in their neighbor’s (Luke 6:41).
God has many qualities, but I think it’s clear that His most dominant characteristic is His holiness. Isaiah 6 shows us the prophet’s vision of the Lord in the company of angels, holy creatures themselves who have wings that cover their face because God is so holy that they can’t bear to look at Him. All they do, all day long is stand, or fly, or float, or whatever angels do and say, “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
God is so holy that on our best day we don’t even come close to passing His holy standard. We don’t have to be a felon, or an adulterer or a tax collector to be in the sinning hall of fame. We are self-centered, we have impure thoughts, we gossip and verbally tear one another down.
This reminds me of another run in our Lord had with a tax collector, Levi in Luke 5:27-32. Jesus, again, ignoring what the Pharisees have to say about it, enters the house of Levi, another tax collector. The Pharisees grumbled, “Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus masterfully responds, “Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.“ How does this make sense when we know from Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus himself says in Luke 18:19 “no one is good except God himself.”
I believe what Jesus means here is that salvation requires a healthy recognition of our own depravity and the consequent need for forgiveness. If we don’t first understand that we stand guilty before a holy God whose wrath we deserve, we’ll never see the need for salvation. Still, many Christians fall into this trap, failing to see their helplessness even after they’ve trusted Christ as their Savior. The Holy Spirit lives in our hearts, convicting us of our sin and our constant need for Christ. This should lead to a life of humility and gratitude, not haughtiness and judgment.
Rather than sitting in judgment of anyone, if we were able to see ourselves through God’s holy eyes, we would be repulsed. We would weep, confess and repent. This humility that comes from knowing that we fall desperately short of God’s holy standard is called brokenness and brokenness, not judgment or pride is the mark of a mature Christian. The ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16: 7-15) is to convict believers of their sin, bringing us to confession, repentance and a spirit of brokenness.
Let’s ask God to see ourselves through His holy eyes. Whether you are a new follower of Jesus or have been walking with him for decades, to come closer to Him is to see where we fall short and become broken before Him. With this mindset, we won’t see any “sinner” as beneath our compassion and love.
Published on June 28, 2018 @ 1:40 PM AKDT