This morning Pastor Jeff preached on Luke 14:1-14. In this section Jesus talks about humility, having a right view of oneself, and sacrificial giving, caring for others even though they can't repay you. (Jeff also talked about love and compassion, but that is outside the scope of what I'll explore here.)
So, tonight I sat down to do my devotions and read Matthew 22:15-22 and found the Pharisees' testimony of Jesus in verse 16, "...you are a man of integrity and you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are." Now, the Pharisees acknowledged these things in order to then pressure Jesus with a question about paying taxes. The interesting thing, however, is that Jesus responds in accordance with how they have described him. Rather than pointing right away to Caesar and who he his, his position, instead he asks for a coin and who's inscription is on that coin. In a way Jesus was saying, "If you came across a cow and it had a brand on it, would you not return it to its rightful owner? If you came across a child and it carried the resemblance of a certain neighbor, would you not return it to that neighbor? Well here is something with the inscription of Caesar, so just as you would with any other man, return this to Caesar if he asks for it."
So here are some thoughts that came out of this. In order to act out of humility, in order to do the things that Jesus talks about in Luke 14, its not that we seek out those who can't repay us. The tendency is for us to think that Jesus is saying we should only help those who are poor and needy and that we should hate the rich, but Jesus is getting at something much deeper. I think the Pharisees hit it right on the head when they said, "you pay no attention to who they are." Jesus paid no attention to WHO someone was, but only saw that they were a person. He healed the children of rich synagogue rulers and centurions, as well as widows and the poor. He dined with the religious, the rich tax collectors, and the lowest of the low who were sick and poor. If we want to be like Jesus we cannot simply look for those who are poor and hurting, rather we must see that all are equally poor and hurting and only then can we treat each individual rightly.
We must come to the point where we can see, talk to, and care for our boss in the same way that we see, talk to, and care for that employee that we just had to lay off. And where we can respect, cherish, and love that employee in the same way that we respect, cherish, and love our boss. Where one's prior achievements and rank in life do not change how we talk to them or treat them, in fact, we need to come to the point where when we see a person we don't even pay attention to WHO they are, in the social sense, but rather we need to see them as a person and treat them as such, not expecting anything in return, not doing it for glory or fame, not doing it because that person deserves it, but doing it because it brings glory to our Father who is in Heaven and because we know that by so doing we are doing his will and his work.
May it be said of you that you are a person of integrity who is willing to speak the truth of God no matter how contrary to common beliefs it is. May it be said of you that you are not swayed by men, that you have no fear of men, because you pay no attention to who they are. May you become blind to the things that this world deems important and may your eyes be opened to what God sees important. May you not see this world as a hierarchy, a chain to be climbed, but may you walk forward in love and compassion, climbing if that is where God wants you to go, or descending if that is where God wants you to be. May you serve those around you sacrificially, whether they be in a coma or with a terminal illness, or whether they are the CEO of a huge company or the biggest client your company has. May you learn to love as Jesus loved, not in response to who it is you are loving but because of who you are and who you have been loved by.
(I always wanted to end a really long written work with a sentence ending in a preposition.....)