On Judging Sinners ...

Been think of late about the whole tension that exists amongst religious folks and sincere people of faith. Consider the contrasts presented in this story from the ninth chapter of Matthew's gospel:
As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector's booth; and He said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him. 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."
Here are a few of my thoughts about the contrasts in the passage:
  • Matthew: There is something wonderful in the simple way that Jesus called and Matthew followed.. I think that it reflects the heart of Jesus.. and Matthew's response is reflective of his heart as well.. imagine what it must have been like for an outcast of religious people to be called this way.. simply wonderful.
  • Pharisees: There is something dark and sinister about the way that these folks reject the call to sinners.. I think their judging attitude is reflective of people that have dark and hard hearts.. the religious elitism and arrogance is so repugnant.
  • Jesus: Once again our Lord amazes us as He confronts the issue head on rebuking the religious people and instructing them about how they should be responding to sinners.
I think it sad that religion prevented some sinners from answering Jesus call. I wonder what it is about religion that caused us to harden against God? It reminds me of what James says about real religion:
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Notice that James mentions nothing about judging sinners or keeping the law.


  1. When religion becomes an exclusive club, fruit rots on the vine.

  2. Funny you should say that Mike.. I was telling my wife this morning that I thought that "dues" is a more descriptive term that "tithe" as many churches have a real club-like atmosphere.. of course the tithe was more of a tax in the Old Testament anyways.. which could also be a more current word than "tithe".

  3. Being religious and judgemental is the worst thing in the world. As Jesus said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". It is also a form of pride. None of us are without sin so how can we judge others. As my car bumper sticker says: Not perfect just Forgiven.

  4. I notice too, that Jesus was the only one who dared to be with these men. They weren't just social outcasts to the religious folk, no one liked the tax-collector! Jesus reached out to the lowliest group possible.

    No matter what we think, if we do not come to God with an empty, open hand, He will not tolerate us. He honors the meek, the lowly, the humble. It is hard for those who think themselves better to be humble. If you are at the bottom of the heap, you have no where to look but up.

  5. Good thought @Spherical! Just being with "sinners" can speak a lot louder than all the talk.


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