You probably have guessed that I love college students. After working with them for 11 years, equalling over 22,000 hours with them I think it's fair to say I know them, I deeply understand them and I appreciate them. If you want a peek into a college students heart, read this post I wrote about them. But when you havent heard their stories and felt their pain it's easy to point fingers at their outward appearance or mannerisms. Not too long ago some volunteers were helping at one of our student retreats and I overheard them saying how the girls needed to hear a talk on modesty. Now, there is nothing wrong with talks on modesty but the girls on the retreat these ladies were talking about were not Christians and had been deeply hurt in the past by Christians. They struggled with self hate and for the first time were semi-open to the idea that Jesus could actually care about them. A talk on modesty is pretty much the last thing "those girls" needed.
It is so easy for us to see the outside of people and make judgements about where we think they need to be and point fingers instead of really getting into their life and hearing their story and walking through it with them.
Luke 7:36-50 tells us a beautiful story of a prostitute who saw who Jesus and was moved to action. She made a choice to give Him something incredibly precious and valuable to her, her perfume, her livelihood. The most important thing to a prostitute was their perfume, which this lady held in this alabaster jar. Her devotion was sacrificial, intentional and it was courageous.
Yet from the moment Jesus entered Simon’s house, he did not give him a basin to wash His feet and did not greet Him with a kiss. This would be like bringing a special guest into your home and not opening the door for them, taking their coat and saying hello. What Simon did was very offensive. I wonder if he was slightly jealous of Jesus and that is why he went out of his way to try to show Jesus was nothing special. Perhaps this is why the prostitute is crying. Wondering, “Don’t they know who He is? Why are they treating Him this way?”
I love how Jesus doesn’t just sweep things under the carpet, but addresses attitudes and actions. He brings this offense to Simon’s attention as well as bring truth to the lies he was believing. A humble man at this point would apologize for his lack of respect and thank the woman for compensating for his rudeness. But Simon is not able to recognize his faults, but is only able to point the finger at the outwardly sinful woman.
Still talking to Simon, Jesus turns to the woman. How beautiful! He is looking right into her eyes and starts bragging on her in front of the entire room of people. Who in these men’s worlds would be the most undeserving of honor? A prostitute woman, but Jesus seizes the opportunity to brag on her because of her faith.
This story is incredibly shocking to the men in that room because not only does Jesus praise and honor a despised women, but goes on to make her the noble hero. And His honoring of her publicly brings with it the benefit of restoring her to community.
There is a need to come along side the people God has put in our life and help them overcome sin. Gal. 6:1 says "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." We are called to correct our brothers and sisters in Christ but the word restore is the word to mend a net or set a broken bone. Very carefully, gently. Not with a pointing finger but a loving arm wrapped around them. To bring truth in the context of grace by going through the mess with them. And after they turn back to Jesus in submission, they need to be restored to community. And the community needs to receive them without holding back love or respect. They deserve to be treated with respect just like Jesus treated the prostitute.
This post the final in the series
Check out the entire series:
Potiphar's Wife; Life Unrestrained
Woman at the Well; Experiencing God's Grace
Rahab; Ms. Courageous meet Prince Charming
Damaris; Counted Among Them
Eunice and her faithful reward
Midwives; What they have in common with Chick-fil-a and Cake
Miriam; What's the big deal with dishonor?
Dinah; When life is bigger than you imagined
Lot's wife; Dealing with a heart that longs
Mother of Thunder; When you want for your kids
Having a Martha Faith in a Mary World
The Phoenician Widow and the Blinding Effects of Shame
King Lemuel's Mom & Bragging on Others
Reaching for Fringe