The Right Reputation

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, July 18, 2019

In the following story, Jesus is invited to the home of a Pharisee for dinner. His intentions were not the same as those of Jesus.

Luke7:36-39 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.”

Let me speculate, based on what happened, as to what the Pharisee may have been thinking.

  1. “If I can invite this popular prophet (and I use that term lightly) to my home for dinner I will make some big points with the other guys down at the temple.”
  2. “Having Jesus over to my house for dinner will earn me greater respect from the people and will increase my sphere of influence.”
  3. “If Jesus comes to my house for dinner it will validate my belief system and confirm my position on the law.”
  4. “If I have Jesus over for dinner I’ll be able to better evaluate where He truly stands on the issues and be able to pin Him down if I see any problems with what He teaches.”
  5. “I’ll invite this guy Jesus over for dinner so I can see if He’s anything like they say He is. There’s got to be something wrong with Him?”

It appears that every motive of the Pharisee was selfish. He already had decided that nothing or no one was going to ever change his mind or belief system, and the best way to validate his own way of thinking and living was to discredit the one who brought guilt to his heart. The Pharisee was more concerned about remaining untouched by his sin than he was about touching his sin with salvation.

He was on a totally different page of the Spirit’s guidebook than was Jesus. This religious leader had no concern for this woman’s plight, no desire to lift her from her sinful life or to help her become a better Jewish woman. Instead, he judged her as a sinner, shoved her aside, and presumed that any other rabbi (and especially one who was a “prophet”) would do the same.

I wonder how you and I are doing in this area of outreach? Could it be that we have also drawn clear lines of separation from sinful people for fear that they will negatively influence us? Could it be that our faith is so weak that we believe that he who is in the world is greater and more influential than He who is in us?

Jesus had no problem putting Himself into intimate relationships with people who were considered scum by society. Jesus’ compassion and offer of forgiveness gave hope to people such as this woman. Jesus cared when no one else bothered. He did not fear that the flow of influence would be reversed so that she would change Him. Why do we fear that so much? Why, when Jesus Himself dwells in us in the power of the Holy Spirit, do we fear that sinful people will corrupt God’s character in us?

Or maybe we simply fear a tarnished reputation. Allowing ourselves to be seen in the company of sinners is one thing, but then actually letting their lives touch ours in some way – that’s preposterous! What would people think if they knew I had spent valuable time intentionally reaching out to the needs of those kinds of people? My reputation in the church would be shot.

Hey, I’ve got an idea – if your reputation in a church would be destroyed by spending time with sinners, then find a different church! Find a church that intentionally reaches out to sinners with the compassion of Jesus Christ. Get yourself a new and improved reputation!

We must not become like the Pharisee and shove sinners aside for self-centered and self-protective reasons. We must intentionally allow ourselves to be touched by the worst of sinners, because prior to our own salvation, that is what we were.

Pastor John

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