Monday, October 8, 2012

Before the alabaster jar

This morning, I read once more the story of the woman in the seventh chapter of Luke.

She’s always been one of my favorite characters in the Bible, her with the tear-stained face laying her shame and sin literally at the feet of Jesus—her pouring out the perfume and kissing his feet. And the Pharisees standing around whispering, rolling their eyes, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him” (Luke 7:39 The Message).

Oh, Jesus knew all right. He knew her before she ever picked up that jar of perfume. He knew her history, her sin—the nature of her relationships.

I recently heard about a Christian’s instructions to one who was reaching out to a woman who’d lost her way, “Don’t enable her.” This was not an addiction situation; we’re talking about someone who’d become confused and taken a wandering road. To extend love to those who’ve yet to pick up the alabaster jar is not enabling them. It’s loving like Jesus did.

To require others to “measure up” before we offer them love is living like a Pharisee. Somehow, we’re afraid it’s going to take something away from us if we love those who need love the most--if we associate with those we deem of lesser stature—sinners.

Like we don’t know anything about that.

It’ll cost all right.  It cost Jesus his life.

And it’s going to cost us--mostly our pride.

C.S. Lewis calls pride the great sin in Mere Christianity and comments, “Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good—above all, that we are better than someone else—I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil.”

To love those lost in sin is not putting our stamp of approval on their actions. Extending grace and mercy to them is being light in their darkness.

Oswald Chambers writes, “If I see the mote in your eye, it means I have a beam in my own. Every wrong thing that I see in you, God locates in me… Stop having a measuring rod for other people. There is always one fact more in every man’s case about which we know nothing.”

Chambers concludes, “I have never met the man I could despair of after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.”

And that’s it—understanding we are no different from any other sinner.

For all those who’ve yet to run to the feet of Jesus with their alabaster jars, let’s love them unconditionally and watch for what God will do.

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