by David Brenneman
"Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he encountered robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by coincidence a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan who was on a journey came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed compassion to him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” Luke 10:30-37 NASB
This response was for the lawyer...
"But wanting to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”" vs Luke 10:29 NASB.
We go through life and actually are taught through various ways and forms of peer pressure to categorize people.
This is what so many people get messed up concerning "you shouldn't judge!". Jesus taught His Disciples, and by extension all who have followed since, to be fruit inspectors. "You will know them by their fruits". A good tree cannot bear bad fruit nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
To borrow a famous line from a movie: you must unlearn what you have learned.
We don't want God to count our sins against us, we ask Jesus to forgive us, so why do we keep records of those who wronged us?
"I can forgive, but I can't forget!" Is often a very much a go-to excuse to keep on sinning in this.
We are told, by Jesus to forgive one another as Christ in God has forgiven us.
What does the Bible say about that? He casts our sins as far as the east is from the west, remembering them no more.
This is directly related to this passage in Luke this morning. We cannot treat people any differently than Jesus did. We cannot hold onto any root of bitterness towards others. As long as a body breathes life, there's hope that God can turn that life around.
When we cut people off, and behave as we often do, it is us trying to play God and we try to decide who's worthy of Heaven and who is not.
Really let that sink in. Lean into those words, to borrow my Pastor's go-to line from his sermons. Lean in and focus on those words.
What does Jesus say about forgiving others? If we don't then God doesn't forgive ours.
Don't take my word for it.
"For if you forgive other people for their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive other people, then your Father will not forgive your offenses." Matthew 6:14-15 NASB.
That lawyer wanted to be justified in his choices in life, in his way of treating others. The Pharisees and the Sadducee's the same. Those that Jesus was speaking to...the same. Meaning everyone.
We are to live lives that reflect the truth of God. That Gospel message that we just celebrated yesterday for Easter is for everyone, not just those we decide are worthy.
But so-and-so did that to me! So what. Jesus was spit upon, beaten, mocked, scorned, degraded publicly. Nailed to a cross.
There are no buts. Jesus chose to forgive you all that you have done or would ever do. That's the forgiveness that He spoke of. We must do that for all others, no exceptions.
It's not to say it's a blank check for us to permit people to walk all over us. Use Godly wisdom in dealing with outsiders it says in the New Testament. Don't be a doormat. Don't set yourself up for situations where bitterness would flourish. Jesus also taught to not cast your pearls before swine. Don't take the precious truths of God and have them used against you. Don't go where God doesn't want you to be going with everyone. We do not save people. Jesus saves. The Spirit does the work in the lives of people. We plant seeds and cultivate those seeds that broke ground. We do not force a seed to grow. God's timing in the lived of people who haven't yet come to Christ is on His timetable. Scripture says that some plant, some water others reap the harvest. It's God who causes the growth.
Look at who you've cast out of your life.
Look who you've decided wasn't worthy of the salvation message.
It's not pretty isn't it?
Matthew 10:16 NASB "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves."
I sort of looked at that depiction twice. Serpent. Satan was very shrewd in the garden as a serpent. This lends to the idea of knowing yourself as well as know your enemy. Understanding the spiritual forces and spiritual battles will help us in seed planting and seed cultivating.
Farmers know when to plant seeds.
Farmers know when it's a good time to work in the field.
Farmers know when to keep their hands off while God causes the crops to grow.
We are workers in His fields as Jesus said. We are to be the same in His fields as Farmers. We are to be Jesus to those around us. He said it wouldn't be easy. Said that if people hated Him they would hate us too. But remember too Jesus didn't give up on a single solitary human being in all history. He died once for all.
So if this message is for you...what will you do with it?
If this is a reminder, and it's how you live, teach it to others.
If you're reading this and somehow it's you on the wrong side of it, that it was you who weren't treated right by people claiming to be Christians, I am truly sorry. That's not how you should have been treated.
The message of the Gospel is for everyone. To maintain the analogy, a few bad apples can spoil it. Don't consider all Christians as being like those who weren't living out what Jesus said to be like.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost in this world. He showed no partiality. Some still rejected Him, some didn't.
The Spirit of God should be guiding and directing the lives of those who have come to Christ for salvation. We who are in Christ are to be different, to be submitting, to what He wants of us in this life. Even if it's people that are rubbing us the wrong way. Even if it's this kind of person or that kind of person.
Your neighbor is whomever the Spirit places in your life.
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