DayBreaks for 10/1916 – If You Do, Then You Aren’t

DayBreaks for 10/19/16 – If You Do, Then You Aren’t

The famous actor Gregory Peck was once standing in line with a friend, waiting for a table in a crowded Los Angeles restaurant. They had been waiting for some time, the diners seemed to be taking their time eating and new tables weren’t opening up very fast. They weren’t even that close to the front of the line. Peck’s friend became impatient, and he said to Gregory Peck, “Why don’t you tell the maitre d’ who you are?” Gregory Peck responded with great wisdom. “No,” he said, “if you have to tell them who you are, then you aren’t.”

That’s a lesson that the Pharisee in our gospel reading apparently had never learned. His prayer, if it can be called that, is largely an advertisement for himself. He’s selling himself to God. Little wonder that Luke describes him in the way he does, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself.” That’s a very apt description, isn’t it — he prayed with himself. He would have done better had he had Gregory Peck there to whisper in his ear that if he had to remind God who he was, then he wasn’t.

The tax collector, on the other hand, didn’t have to tell God who he was. He knew who he was and he knew that God knew who he was. His prayer is not an exercise in self-promotion, but a confession and a plea for mercy. He is not selling himself, but opening himself. And Jesus says, “It is this man who went home justified.” To be justified means to be declared “not guilty.” It means to be declared right. The tax collector is declared to be in the right relationship to God while the Pharisee, who is so certain of his own righteousness, is shown to be in the wrong relationship with God. He is not justified before the bar of God’s justice which is the court of ultimate consequence.

Let’s note, however, that all this doesn’t mean that the Pharisee was a bad person and the tax collector really a good person. There’s no suggestion of that in this parable. It flat out doesn’t say. But we do know that God loves the humble and resists the proud. We also know that Scripture says there is no such thing as a “good” person, so it’s a moot point. But, the contrast between these two couldn’t be clearer. Both were “bad” persons (as we all are biblically), but one of the bad ones had a right relationship with God and God was pleased to justify the humble man. Just because the Pharisee told God how great he was didn’t mean he was great or righteous. The Lord loves a penitent heart!

He’ll be glad to justify any of us…if we’re willing to admit who and what we are.

PRAYER: We are all great sinners, Lord. I’m thankful that you justify even people like me! And please keep us from being proud of any level of humility we may have. Thank you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

 

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DayBreaks for 11/30/12 – Lessons Learned From the Cheap Seats

DayBreaks for 11/30/12 – Lessons Learned From the Cheap Seats

Luke 5:27-32 (NLT)Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him.  28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.  29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them.  30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”   31 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.  32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Levi’s (known better to us as the apostle Matthew) tax collector booth was sitting by the side of the road on the way out of town, sort of like a lemonade stand, but also very different.  It was like a dentist office in many ways – not the kind of place that anyone wants to go to or to visit.

In many ways, Levi (though he was undoubtedly wealthy from cheating people out of their money as was the practice of tax collectors in his time), was like a modern day beggar.  Most people would pass right by him – not wanting to pretend that they saw him – especially if they owed him money.

I confess that there are times when I see a beggar at a stoplight or driveway entering a shopping center and pretend not to see them – I will turn and look the other way.  It’s not because I owe them money, but because I’m too selfish and don’t want to give them money.  I will also often judge them in my heart – thinking that if they weren’t so lazy they’d get a job and not be begging any more.  I’ve been learning that in today’s economy that isn’t necessarily true.  The numbers of homeless and hungry have skyrocketed since the recession.  But still I don’t owe them money in a literal sense.  But there is something I do owe them: love.  Romans 13:8 (ESV) Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  Flunked that test, didn’t I?

When I ignore them, pretend not to notice or see them, I am no different than those who passed by the man who had been beaten by the thieves and left beside the road.  Several passed him by before the good Samaritan came and helped.  As much as I’d like to think otherwise in my heart, I’m far too much like those who passed him by.

Jesus not only noticed Levi, but he went and talked to him.  What would the reaction be today of those who witnessed a pastor going to talk to a prostitute(s)?  One would like to think that they would think the best – that he was going to try to help them, not for some other darker purpose.

What was the result of Levi being noticed by Jesus?  He hosts a dinner in Jesus’ honor and invites his friends and they got to meet the Son of God. Levi becomes Matthew, the apostle.  The world was changed simply because Jesus noticed….

Jesus’ words to the religious leaders must have stung: “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous…”  Jesus wasn’t saying that they were righteous, in fact, he was saying precisely the opposite.  We are often deluded by our estimation of ourselves.  This passage shows it clearly!!!!

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: How easily we exalt ourselves and how quickly we judge others!  How selfish we can be!  How can You love creatures such as us?  Thank You that You DO love us in spite of all our selfishness, judgementalism and pride!  Forgive us, dear, compassionate Lord!  Have mercy on me, a sinner! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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