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The Influence of Sinners

partyJesus hung out with the sinners of his day so much that some accused him of being one of them. These prostitutes, thieves, tax collectors flocked to Jesus to find grace and truth.

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. –Matthew 9:10

In contrast, the religious leaders of the day wouldn’t associate with anyone who looked like they may have sinned in any capacity. They had rules for their rules and traditions held firmly in place with determination and religious zeal. They probably would have quoted Psalm 1.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night. –Psalm 1:1-2

Then the psalmist goes on to describe the blessing. Isn’t this contradicting the lifestyle of Jesus? Don’t the Pharisees and others have the moral high ground here? They certainly thought so.

Bob Sorge, in the Fire of Delayed Answers, said this,

Psalm 1 is a marvelous study in godliness. Verse 1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” The sequence of “walks,” “stands,” and “sits” describes progressive entrapment in sin. The temptation of sin is to walk by, then to stand and hang out, and finally to sit down in it.

What Mr. Sorge goes on to say is essentially, the intent of our hearts will lead us so be careful where you walk. I think the biggest consideration is…

Where are you looking for your solutions?

Taking counsel about your marriage from someone who may be very kind and caring, but doesn’t have God’s heart in mind will be detrimental to us. Going out with unsaved work friends because you need to blow off some steam can lead us down the wrong path. Letting those same friends’ attitudes about work, life, marriage, etc. inform your emotional state can bring devastating consequences.

Does Psalm 1 say, “never be around or make friends with a sinner”? I don’t believe so, especially when you consider the life of Jesus, our ultimate example who is Himself, perfect theology.

Jesus didn’t take advice from the prostitutes. He didn’t promote the sinner’s methods of coping or ways of handling situations that fell outside God’s prescriptions. He sat down to eat with these, not taking in their attitudes and justifying their every feeling, but simply being Himself, being light and truth.

Jesus was tempted in every way we are, yet remained without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He must have felt the pressure to conform at some points in His life to the lesser values, morals, and attitudes of those around Him. He didn’t compromise.

I’m not Jesus. I have fallen into this trap too many times for various reasons. The walking by and entertaining ideas, the compromising because it’s more expedient or comfortable, the embracing of patterns and attitudes contrary to His life–it’s no good.

Sinners sought out Jesus because He was different and showed a path no one else could offer. In turn, living His holy life, He was seeking after and saving that which was lost, bound, and broken.

I want the unsaved to feel comfortable around me, not because I’m like them and will take on their characteristics or even their advice, but because they see something different and want to know what that is.

How about you? Have you ever let the “wrong” people influence you? What do you think about this?

fda-sorge3Welcome to week 1 of Chapter 15 for our book club discussion of the Fire of Delayed Answers (disclosure) by Bob Sorge. We are taking a sentence, paragraph, or passage that inspires, encourages, or challenges and writing about it. Since the chapters are longer and subject matter warrants, we’ll also be taking 2 weeks for each chapter. If you have a response on your blog, add it to the widget below. Either way, head over to my friend and co-facilitator, Sarah Salter’s blog for her thoughts. Whether you’ve read the chapter or not, please dive into the conversation!

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  1. Your post brought to mind a guy I used to work with, it never mattered if it was a pot luck lunch at work or a company dinner party, he always bowed his head and prayed.
    His silent testimony impacted many and at that time in my life, it encouraged me to be more bold in showing my belief in God.

    What we do and say matters. People are watching. The world is watching. We are salt and light simply because of Who we believe in.

    • I was amazed when I left my last “secular” job how many didn’t know I wasn’t a pastor. I thought that was why they would apologize to me when they cussed and looked embarrassed when they would make a raunchy joke. I was blessed that they saw something different. They didn’t avoid me, but just felt like they should act different around me. Incredible! You are so right--the world is watching and looking for Him in us. Thank you, TC.

  2. As you and Bob Sorge say, I think Psalm 1 shows a progression, but it also speaks to doing things as sinners would do them. It’s not about socializing with them. It is about socializing as them.

    Jesus most definitely met with, ate with, and attended parties with sinners, but He never sinned with them. Instead He tirelessly modeled a transformed life and invited them to join Him in it.

    That is our example.
    Dusty Rayburn recently posted..Faith Presses ForwardMy Profile

    • “With them” vs. “as them” --I like that. Thanks so much, Dusty.

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