A Little Help, Please
Day 1: Read Mark 2:13-17 reread it several times. To grow as a person often we need to have honest evaluation. Who do you identify with in this story? Consider all before choosing. This isn’t about who you want to be or wish you were, but reflecting on your real life today, your everyday attitudes toward others. Consider the past 2-3 interactions? Who are you most like in this account? Jesus? Levi? The “many tax collectors and sinners who followed and were eating with Jesus,” or the Pharisees? Who would you most like to become more like? What is helping you? What are you doing that is pulling you farther away? Consider a step you could take to shift your attitudes and behavior. Offer that desire and potential step to God, asking Him for the courage to take that step and for Him to use it to change you.
Day 2: Read Mark 2:17. “I’m not the one who needs _______, they are,” is the attitude and heart of the “righteous” in this text. It’s the antithesis of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11). “The Righteous” in this passage is used in a derogatory fashion, to make a point or draw contrast between the posture of the Pharisees and those dining with Jesus. The Pharisees self-assessment may have been they were righteous, but Jesus sees it another way. It’s as if Jesus is speaking back to the Pharisees the attitude within their hearts that He sees in them. Stop there. God knows what’s in our hearts. Ask the Spirit to reveal any attitudes that you may be ignoring. Consider this short prayer several times during today. If He shows you some unhealthy attitudes, confess them to him. If this is difficult, turn to I John 1:9-10.
Day 3: The “teachers of the law” and Pharisees seem to miss not only who Jesus was, but who and how God, The Father, is. It is humbling to see how knowledge can “puff up” and how it shapes our hearts. When God came to us as one of us, this is how He acted; He was friends with, cared for, hung out with those who the “righteous” had written off and despised. Jesus may call us to something that leads us to be despised or rejected, but He does not call us to despise and reject others. Can you see Jesus in those who are far from Jesus, maybe even really far from Jesus? Who are the “sick” among us today?
Day 4: Read Mark 2:17 & Romans 3:10-19. If Jesus did not come for the righteous, but the sick and sinners, then Jesus came for everyone! He didn’t come to start a club for the “righteous”, but to start His Church for everyone who recognizes their sin and brokenness. In Day 2, we referenced the Beatitudes, one of which is “Poor in Spirit”. What does that mean or look like in our life? An awareness of our poverty before God and our need for God in our own lives and in the lives of others. If we lose perspective of our own sinful ways and attitudes, we can easily vilify others to justify or convince ourselves of our own righteousness. Knowing and following Jesus is the only path to righteousness! Ask a close family member or trusted friend, “Am I aware of my own sin?”.
Day 5: The Pharisees were so certain about God and the ways He works in this world. They not only missed God when He came, they viewed Him as a threat to the “god” they had created in their minds. They mastered the content of the Old Testament, were nuanced in their ways of keeping the laws, rules, and following the system, but they missed the point of all of it; they missed finding, knowing, and relating with the big, powerful, mysterious, compassionate, loving God. They turned the means into an end. Doing and following what was supposed to form them to live in humility, forgiveness, and love, but they saw their actions and beliefs become the point itself. We’re all at risk of this in our own lives. Why do we study scripture, pray, worship, attend church? Has any of those become the point instead of what they are meant to do in us which is to lead us to know and become more like Jesus? Do any of these habits feel cold, routine or stale in your life?