Sinners and Outcasts

photoHave you ever had a moment where a realization hurt your heart because you recognized how much you really stink at living like Jesus?

This happened to me on Sunday listening to a sermon on Sinners, Outcasts and the Poor.

I think we can all agree that helping the poor is a good thing to do.  In fact, Jesus tells us to help the poor many, many, many times!

My favorite scripture on this subject is when the wealthy guy told Jesus that he kept all of the commandments and wanted to know what else he had to do to get into heaven….  Jesus felt sorry for him because he knew the man was wealthy and it would be devastating to him to give it away.

I wonder how often Jesus feels that way about me?

Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21

Giving to the poor isn’t that big of a stretch for many people with loving hearts.  It’s the sinners and outcasts that seem to give us the most problems.

Our excuses to stay away from such people are wide-ranging:

  1. They are sinners and outcasts…duh.
  2. They are bad people.
  3. I don’t like them.
  4. They are different.
  5. They did something really bad to deserve punishment for a long time.
  6. They aren’t worthy of my help.
  7. They don’t believe in Jesus, why would I waste my time?
  8. There is nothing I can do that will ever change their mind to believe in Jesus
  9. They are just mean.
  10. They scare me and I don’t want to be around them so I can protect myself and my family.

Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t seem to think any of these excuses are good enough….

And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:10-13

Talk about smacking me upside my head!!  I am ashamed and saddened to know that I, too, have questioned helping others because of their labels.

The truth is people don’t need me walking door to door asking if they know Jesus.  They don’t need me to condemn them for their disbelief.  And they don’t need me to brow-beat them with the Bible.

People need love.  People need a shoulder to cry on.  People need a listening ear.  People need a helping hand.  People need others to show them the love of Christ by their actions.

We can offer what God has given us.  Let God do the rest.  We don’t give the gift of salvation…GOD DOES.

I loved hearing my pastor say, “We are united in our BROKENNESS.  Not one is righteous.”

Hallelujah!  Praise God!

Consider who the undesirables are in your life.  Do you love them as Christ does?

Some Wisdom for Today:  Proverbs 19:7 – Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

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