Friday, March 9, 2012

Parable Of An Honest Liar - 3rd Friday In Lent

Today's thoughts brought to you by Beth:
“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.” Luke 18:9-14
It is painfully easy to categorize people. We like to put them in boxes. It keeps things organized; it helps us understand our world. We understand partiers, and drinkers, conservatives, liberals, straight-laced people, super-saved types and rebels. We love words like two-faced and shallow. That's comfortable for us. It makes sense, and usually give us a chance to feel better about ourselves. Funny how God doesn't see his creation that way. The One who made us would never dream of narrowing down who and what we are to a label.
This parable has always been a favorite of mine. It's a beautiful picture of God seeing past the things that are fake. Jesus takes a church-guy, and shows a heart full of labels, where mercy should be. Where humility could be. Then he takes a liar, a cheat, and shows an honest man. Somebody who's made mistakes. Somebody who can't deny the wrong in his own life, but knows that God has more than that label for him. God is so in love with this creation, that He made a way in Jesus to take away that wrong. He offers it to both men, but only one is open to receive it. Amazing. We have a God who pulls off our labels, and for His sake marks us as forgiven, letting us be all the things we were created to be.

What labels do you put on yourself? What labels do you put on others? Ask God to take away your labels, and the things you are ashamed of. Ask him for the strength to look at others with mercy and humility, as part of His beautiful light in this world.

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