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A Friend of Sinners

Daily Reading: Mark 7

Scripture Focus: Some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (Mark 7.2)

Devotional Thought: Jesus faced a lot of criticism in his day. Legalistic people didn’t like what he did on the Sabbath. They didn’t appreciate his calling God Father. They didn’t like the people he hung out with. All of that did not faze Jesus. So, these religious elites began to criticize his disciples as a way to get at him: “Their hands are dirty!”

It sounds a bit trite to us, but it was serious business to those Pharisees and Scribes. To them, having defiled hands when you ate meant that you yourself became defiled with the sinfulness of the heathen Gentiles. And that meant that you were unfit to worship God. To the Pharisees, you couldn’t be friends with sinners and with God at the same time.

Jesus blew that up.

It is true that we can’t be friends with the world – meaning the philosophy and values and immorality of the world – while being friends with God. The scripture says, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4.4). But it also says that Jesus was a friend of sinners (Matthew 11.19, Luke 19.7). Jesus went places and did things that offended and even shocked the religious hypocrites of his day. The question is, “Do I?” Am I willing to “get my hands dirty” in order to be a friend of sinners?

May Jesus help me to be a friend of sinners! Not a friend of sin, but of sinners!

Prayer: Lord, help me today to guard my heart and to love people like you love them. Keep me from being critical and judgmental. May I embrace those who are often rejected. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: 5.7-12

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