The Thoughts and reflections this week are from Stuart. As usual, the passage can be read online here.
I’m writing this the day after we heard that a long-time friend of ours has some legal trouble. He is a lovely, gentle Christian who has been committed and faithful in the church for many years, but he did something wrong and is now facing the legal consequences.
How do you re-act to that? We both love him in the Lord and our hearts went out to him, his family and their church family. But he had wronged other people. So how do you balance your love for the person against their sin and its judgement?
There is clear teaching that sin should be opposed (1 Cor 5) and that it has consequences today and not just in future judgement (1 Cor 11:30-32). However, there is also a call for us to show love and to restore those who have fallen (Gal 6:1). So what is the right balance and crucially what is the right attitude of heart?
The Lord Jesus demonstrated the perfect combination of love and righteousness in today’s passage.
Jerusalem was in a spiritual mess; the people had become blind to God (v42), they turned from love for God to love for money and this world (v46). They had been called to reach out and welcome all nations (Is 56:1-7) but instead had become selfish and inward looking (Jer 7:1-11).
Therefore, in his righteousness the Lord Jesus took action straightaway (v45) driving the people out of the temple court. But he also declared a more severe judgement, which would take place 40 years later (v43-44).
However, as well as this righteous opposition to sin we also see the heart of the Lord Jesus; he wept as he looked over the city (v41). Elsewhere Luke tells us these words of Jesus:
‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Luke 13v34
Despite the sin the Lord Jesus’ heart went out to the people, shedding tears of sadness.
We called our friend’s wife to express our love, sadness and concern. She said most people have been kind and understanding, but some hadn’t.
There is a world of difference between righteousness and self-righteousness;
- Righteousness opposes the sin but leaves room for God’s love and reaches out
- Self-righteousness only has room for self and points the finger at others.
Lord I thank you that you look on me with both righteousness and love. Help me to remember I’m a sinner saved by grace and to act towards those around me in your righteousness love, rather than self-righteous judgement.