A Course for Life – Overcoming Religious Ambition and Pride - Wednesday, June 6th

A Course for Life – Overcoming Religious Ambition and Pride - Wednesday, June 6th

(This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:10-13 (NASB)

Today's thoughts from today's verses:

We have been talking about God's purpose concerning the world and the ramifications it has for us. We saw that the rebellion of mankind is really all about removing God from the equation in regard to living life here on earth. God's purpose of filling the earth with his glory has become a work of putting himself back into the equation by redeeming people and filling them with his glory one person at a time. We saw yesterday that God's provision of redemption through his Son, Jesus Christ, is an amazing demonstration of the love he has for a lost and rebellious world.

In today's passage Jesus says, "For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus came to redeem sinners and we are all sinners in absolute need of redemption. Redemption is a gift of compassion that God gives to a lost and rebellious world. The compassion with which God relates to us becomes the compassion with which we relate to others. But "sacrifice" gets in the way of "compassion." When Jesus speaks of "sacrifice," he is speaking of the religious system of the day. It is a system of religious practice that is all about performance, following the rules, measuring up by being good enough, self-righteousness and pride, etc.

When religious practice becomes our primary focus instead of the relationship of love and compassion we have with God, we will have little love and compassion for others. In a very real sense a "sacrifice" approach negates what God has done to put himself back into the equation of our lives. When we do this we nullify the redemptive work of God in our own lives, both in terms of the impact of his love and compassion on us and the impact it has on others through us. We become ones who look down our "religious" noses at others. Instead of loving the world, we hate it and fight against it. We see clearly in today's passage that this is not what Jesus did and we must not either if we are truly going to join him in his redemptive work of reaching the world.

Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

Lord, deliver me and protect me from self-righteousness. I want you fully in the equation of my life. Please, help me to see always that anything and everything that is good and right in my life, is your doing. Remove religious ambition and pride far from me and fill me with love and compassion for any and all people. Amen!

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