Jesus may love sinners, but they annoy me.  Part 6

Luke 5:29-32

When life presents me with the situation of socializing with sinners, I tend to get annoyed, irritated, and sometimes disgusted. You see, in the whole scheme of things, I fall into the category of ‘self-righteous.’ Relatively so, I consider myself as ‘less sinful than most others.’  


As I write this, I am well aware that my attitude is disgusting to God. I don’t take it lightly. As the Bible teaches, you can be sure that my heart of flesh is filled with pride and rebellious disobedience. The more I learn about God, the more I realize how far short I fall of His glory. I am beginning to learn that sinning less than someone else is really pretty meaningless in view of the fullness of the glory of God. 


That being said, I still tend to look at others who are sinful and feel annoyed by them. 


I’ve learned something recently …


In my recent study of Jesus’ love for sinners, I have realized something … I am not very Christ-like in the area of loving sinners. When I am around non-Christians, I find that excessive drinking is very annoying to me. Dropping F-bombs, telling dirty jokes and speaking lewdly is disgusting to me. I simply don’t like to be around these people. 


I’m afraid I’m more pharisee-like than Christ-like. I don’t look at sinners and say, ‘I want to be your friend; let’s spend time together; let’s do lunch; let’s go to a game.’   


However, Jesus is a friend of sinners. The Pharisees observed that all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near Him … the Pharisees concluded that This man (Jesus) received sinners and eats with them. Jesus welcomed them, spoke with them, and ate meals with them.  


Maybe I can learn from Jesus in how He interacted with Matthew’s friends! 


And Levi (Matthew) gave a big reception for Him (Jesus) in his house; there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them.


The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.


What do we know about Matthew? 


  • He was a tax collector – most likely, well-compensated. 
  • He had a home that could host a large party with a ‘great crowd’ of people. 
  • Levi the tax collector (Matthew) had a lot of friends and acquaintances. Most of them outcasts and sinners.  


Matthew’s heart was transformed by Jesus. Jesus called him and He left everything; he got up from the tax booth, quit his job, and gave himself completely to following Jesus.  


One of Matthew’s first responses to his transformed life was to introduce others to Jesus. It seems Matthew wasn’t embarrassed by his tribe of sinners. And you know what? Jesus wasn’t embarrassed by them either. Jesus reclined at the table with them. This was a sign of friendship, respect, and intimacy. 


Matthew knew something the Pharisees didn’t understand. The Pharisees falsely believed that those who were righteous should avoid sinners. I’m afraid that we often fall into that trap as well. Matthew knew that the old laws of avoiding the unrighteous and the sinners were reversed with Jesus.   


Matthew wasn’t polluted with a ‘holier than thou’ mindset. Matthew knew intuitively, in his first days of being saved, what Paul would later teach to the confused Corinthian church. 


I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with the idolaters; for then you have to go out of (or leave) the world.


But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person…For we do not have anything to do with judging outsiders … God judges’ outsiders … I Corinthians 5:9-11 


There are so many religious types and Christians who do not have an understanding of Paul’s clarification here. Paul says it’s OK to associate with immoral people. However, so many Christians cannot and do not interact with brazen, non-Christian sinners. However, Jesus did.  


Jesus was a friend of sinners. Jesus loves sinners. Jesus spent time with the people who needed Him the most.  


Question: Are you a Matthew or a Pharisee?


You won’t believe what Isaiah said about this situation about 700 years before Matthew had this party with Jesus and his friends. Have you ever been sitting around a fire and the smoke blows toward you and in your face? It’s very uncomfortable and unpleasant. It burns your nose and eyes. You immediately attempt to move away.  


Check this out — a ‘holier than thou’ attitude by righteous Christians makes God’s eyes burn like smoke in His face. 


(Those) who say, (like the Pharisees and legalistic Christians) ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!’ These are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. Isaiah 65:5. 


My attitude toward sinners is sometimes like smoke in God’s nostrils and fire that burns His eyes. I am sometimes ‘holier than thou’. But God has put me through His school of humility and I’m growing more like Christ in this area, but it’s not always easy for me.  


Jesus is teaching me that I’m not so great…I’m definitely not better than others. He’s the Judge, not me. I am to be light and salt, but not the Judge. My role, as is yours, is to be a light, not a wet blanket of condemnation. Let’s avoid holding ourselves up above over sinners. 


Lord, help us to be patient; to be kind; to be humble; and to be gracious … toward sinners. We are no better than they are. We have nothing to be proud of … we only have your grace to cling to; nothing else.  May we be lights in this world and in order to be lights, we must sometimes go where it is dark. Help us to love sinners as you do.