The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2
How do you treat the sinners you encounter? Do you shun them, talk about them, ridicule them, pity them, or ignore them? Hopefully not! How should you treat the sinner? Jesus allowed them to draw near to Him and He was attentive to them. In fact, He was so merciful and kind to the sinner that He was harshly criticized by the Pharisees and scribes. How about you? Are you willing to associate with the sinner to the point that you open yourself up to criticism?
It’s quite easy to be harsh and critical toward those who “deserve it.” When we see someone clearly going astray, we can almost feel justified in pointing the finger and putting them down as if we were better than they or as if they were dirt. What an easy thing to do and what a mistake!
If we want to be like Jesus we must have a very different attitude toward them. We must act differently toward them than how we may feel like acting. Sin is ugly and dirty. It’s easy to be critical toward one who is caught in a cycle of sin. Yet if we do so, we are no different than the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ time. And we will most likely receive the same harsh treatment right back from Jesus for our lack of mercy.
It’s interesting that one of the only sins that Jesus consistently rebukes is that of judgmentalness and criticalness. It’s almost as if this sin shuts the door on God’s mercy in our lives.
Reflect, today, upon how you look at and treat those whose sins are somewhat manifest. Do you treat them with mercy? Or do you react with disdain and act with a judgmental heart? Recommit yourself to mercy and a complete lack of judgment. Judgment is Christ’s to give, not yours. You are called to mercy and compassion. If you can offer just that, you will be much more like our merciful Lord.
Lord, help me when I feel like being harsh and judgmental. Help me to turn an eye of compassion toward the sinner, seeing the goodness You put in their souls before seeing their sinful actions. Help me to leave judgment to You and embrace mercy instead. Jesus, I trust in You.