Recently, while someone was praying for dinner, my daughter peeked her eyes open to find me staring back at her.
A shocked expression came over her face, and as soon as the prayer concluded she announced to the group, “Daddy had his eyes open during prayer!” I’m sure you’ve had this happen before, and you’ve responded the same way I did. “How do you know I had my eyes open? Did you have your eyes open?” When you’re 7 years old, you don’t realize publicly shaming your dad incriminates yourself. At what age do you learn that lesson?
I was reminded of this while rereading the story of Job recently and came across these verses that caught my attention differently than previous reads.
“You have already insulted me 10 times. You should be ashamed of treating me so badly. Even if I have sinned, that is my concern, not yours. You think you’re better than I am, using my humiliation as evidence of my sin.”
Why do Christians believe God needs enforcement officers? We feel this desire to look down on and insult people who are struggling with sin, and whether we say it or not, we believe we’re better than “them,” and we assume it’s ok to humiliate “them” since they’ve made bad or sinful choices. In the tabloid industry, they call it a “takedown piece,” in the church we call it righteous indignation. Don’t get me wrong; Jesus humiliated people too, but never the adulterer or devil worshipers, only the guys who had memorized the Bible, strange right?
I have a friend who recently posted on Facebook his disdain for churches bringing Santa Clause into the church (he was referencing churches doing events where kids could get their picture taken with Santa.) He is entitled to his opinion, and I believe He loves Jesus, but here was my problem, his assessment was that we were doing harm to children’s faith by promoting a “false” character and kids would connect that disappointment to God. I disagree, but I’m not upset by the theory, what upsets me is my friend dips tobacco and curses. Why isn’t that harmful to children’s faith? To be clear, I don’t believe dipping or cursing is a salvation issue, I sometimes curse (unless my dad is reading this in which case I only say darn and shoot), but you know what else isn’t a salvation issue? Santa Clause. My point is, why such passion about harming children’s faith and Santa Clause, and the blatant disregard for his issues? Our passion for righteousness usually starts far enough in front of our noses to keep us from seeing ourselves doesn’t it?
I have another friend who cheated on his wife and lost his family. Some would say he deserved it, and they are entitled to their opinion, but statistically, 7 out of 10 men cheat on their wives and 5 out of 10 wives cheat on their husbands, so somewhere between 50%-70% of my friends are appalled by his actions and are either doing the same or will. I hope I’m wrong, but my point is, I have friends who disowned my adulterous friend while at the same time masturbate to pornography when their wife is not home or already asleep (not figuratively, I mean they told me.) Is adultery and porn the same thing? Not in divorce court but at the cross, yes.
I could keep going, but the truth is I’m a broken mess, and you are too. We’re like the angry mob giddy over the opportunity to stone a sinner assuming Jesus will be as excited as we are, but Jesus always takes the position of a defender to the humiliated. Don’t skip past that.
When I use my faith to humiliate sinners, I am putting myself in direct opposition to the side Jesus stands on.
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Humiliation is all the rage today. The leading candidate for president mocked a retarded person, and his numbers went up. We love to feel superior just like the man in Luke 18
“Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
You would think a people saved by the undeserved grace of God would be more graceful, but we struggle to share what we’ve received. Jesus knew our struggle, that’s why he kept telling stories like the parable of the vineyard workers; that’s why he kept having lunch with Zaccheus, and the woman at the well. You can examine your struggle with grace by asking yourself if the last second salvation of the thief on the cross makes you happy or disappointed.
I start out almost all of my prayer times the same way now, and I would encourage you to do the same. I start praying with “God thank you for not disqualifying me when I disqualified myself.” The only difference between the scandalous and the saint is whether the public has found out yet. I’m not telling you to ignore people’s sin. I’m not even saying you can’t be disappointed or upset, what I am saying is remember the exalted will be humbled. Any time you find yourself looking down on someone else you’re standing too tall. Take a knee and thank God for mercy and grace.
2 Corinthians 12:9
“My grace is all you need; my power works best in your weakness.”
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