Have you ever been turned off by someone’s immodest clothing, crude language, cigarettes, or rude actions? Maybe they are disheveled, have tattoos, or just look like they’re up to no good. Did you ever think to yourself, “Yikes, that person is really lost!” or, “This neighborhood isn’t very safe.” Depending on who you are reading this, you may be thinking of different ideas, but you know the ones I’m talking about. These are the people we hide our kids and families from and move far away from. These are the ones we walk by quickly and try not to get noticed. These are the “worldly” people. Judging from the surface, there’s no doubt these people really appear lost and probably in need of a savior. But are they really so different than ourselves and our own friends and families?
Firstly, what would you expect? Have you placed yourself in their shoes? Would you really turn out ‘clean cut’ if you had the same upbringing and circumstances as the person you’re labeling worldly? Chances are, if we aren’t worshiping God, we are worshiping ourselves, money, attention and power, etc. It should be of no surprise that sinners worship sin! They really don’t know any better. And you wouldn’t either if you weren’t made a new creation and indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Knowing this source of change should really impact how we look at others.
I’m reminded of the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18. Jesus starts off by addressing this common problem of ours: Confidence in our own righteousness…
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
When we see sinners doing what they do best in public, or on the internet or TV, we should really see ourselves. We should see our own desperation and need of God, daily. It’s so healthy to actually do this! Relating to others in this way should help to break down those barriers of stigma or appearance.
Meditate on this parable as an encouragement to talk to someone you normally would be afraid to or would normally avoid. Be kind and outgoing with these people and share the gospel with them. Be conscious about not showing favoritism and relate to other fellow sinners! Christ died for them like He died for you!
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”