Jesus was the epitome of self-control. He could hang with drunks and all kinds of sinners and not get angry with them.
Think about it. When Jesus got angry, it was not with sinners. Jesus got angry with the people that claimed to be followers of God, and yet deceived other people. That was when Jesus had zeal and righteous anger. He said, “You people are the ones who caused me to get angry. Not the sinners. You. Why am I angry? You go around saying that all these people are not worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven because they’re not as good as you. Not as good as you? You are evil! You’re more evil than the sinners are. You’re whitewashed tombs. You’re a brood of vipers. You know those sinners you look down on? At least they admit that they stink. Those sinners I hang out with say, ‘You know, I am a drunk.’ Or, ‘Yes, I did commit adultery.’”
Look at what happened when Jesus met the woman at the well. He asked her, “Where’s your husband?” And she replied, “Well, I don’t have one.” And He said to her, ‘Well, you’ve had five. And the one you’re living with now? You don’t even know his name.” And what did she say to Him? She said, “You’re right!” She didn’t run in shame! She just admitted it. She came right out and said, “Yeah, that’s who I am.” And God said, “Now, here’s where I can love on you.”
You see? I used to think that Jesus could hang out with sinners because He’s God, so He’s loving and forgiving. He knew their sins before they did, so He was able to work with it. That is true, but now I realize that the real reason He could hang with sinners isn’t all that complicated. Jesus just flat out loved His neighbor as Himself.
The only way you can love your neighbor as yourself is to love on him with grace and trust. You cannot love your neighbor if you don’t trust him. You can’t! And I’m not talking about blind, foolish trust. I don’t think you should say, “Hey, I don’t know you, Joe Blow, but I’m going to tell you my deepest, darkest secrets, and here’s the code to my house, and my bank account number.” That’s not the kind of trust I’m talking about. I’m talking about trusting that your neighbors are human beings. They will fail like human beings. They will not add up. That’s what people do. That’s what we all do. Human beings don’t add up, and we fail. We mess up, because we don’t all live by the Spirit all of the time.
Being able to trust people is difficult. Giving grace to people instead of burying them in judgment is very difficult, but it becomes easy when you trust God. Trust pleases Him. Without faith, it is impossible to please him!
More on this next time. See you Thursday.