Kindness Over Customary

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – (Matthew 9:13, NIV)

“You need to go and learn what this Scripture means: ‘I don’t want animal sacrifices; I want you to show kindness to people.’ I did not come to invite good people. I came to invite sinners.” – (Matthew 9:13, ERV)

“Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” – (Matthew 9:13, MSG)

This passage is Jesus’ response to the Pharisees after they questioned Him about His dining with Matthew, the tax collector and the fellow “sinners” that had been invited. In their pseudo piety, they saw the tax collectors and sinners as those who were beneath them and unworthy of the teacher’s time. Jesus, in His wisdom, pointed out that it is the sick who need medical attention; in the same way, sinners need salvation. The Pharisees were already well versed in scriptures and the laws, yet they saw following them as routine and religion, not as love, grace, mercy and sacrifice. Their priorities were all out of place. Time with Jesus was not meant to be an exclusive club or gathering, but rather He prioritized His time for those who were hungry to know more. We are no different today. Often, we get caught in the trap of thinking that if we do enough, or study enough, or pray enough in the four walls of our sanctuaries, we will have somehow arrived. The reality is that we are all called to do as Jesus did. We are charged with going forth in love. This means actively loving those around us; reaching out to those who need hope and help. It looks different for each of us, but the common threads are love, mercy, grace, goodness and kindness. Though we cannot make a difference for everyone, we can have a positive impact on the people whom we encounter;one person at a time. Sometimes it is as simple as a smile or an encouraging word, whereas other times there may be more action required. God is faithful to meet us and show us how to love each person we encounter with His heart. It is up to us to seek Him and trust Him to lead and guide us in the ways that He has for us to love. May we ever seek the Lord to equip us to go forth and love well, in the same way that Jesus chose to reach out, include, serve, honor and love.

For sinners He came,

To seek and to save;

Jesus led with love,

As we should today.

Love is inclusive,

It seeks to meet needs;

Love chooses reach out,

The hungry it feeds.

Sick and the hurting,

Those who’ve lost their way;

Are those Jesus loved,

And pursued each day.

He willingly left,

The flock for the one;

To lovingly lead,

Those who’d come undone.

For it’s through Jesus,

We each come to find;

A loving Savior,

Who has us in mind.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be merciful and kind. Thank You that You first loved us, though we were sinners. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to reach out in love, or think somehow that we are good in our comfortable safety circle. Teach us to reach out beyond our four walls to love all those we meet. Show us how to love the lost and the broken in ways that point their hearts to the truth of Your love and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love, with all people at all times. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

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