We've seen that people who know they should be loving often aren't.
We've also seen it is sometimes amazing the mean things people will do, who know better. What is even more amazing is when they don't feel bad about it.
The question I want us to think about today:
Why is that?
The Bible reveals one of the primary ways we shield ourselves from really being challenged by all the calls to love. (You might say this is one of the ways we wriggle out of conviction...)
It's found in Luke 10.
Whether you know it or not, you are familiar with Luke 10. It contains one of the most popular stories Jesus ever told, the story of the Good Samaritan. We know the details of this story well. Sometimes though, we talk about the story of the Good Samaritan so much that we forget that there was a reason Jesus told it. He told it in the context of a conversation.
Actually, if you look at verse 25 he was responding to a very religious man. Luke says, “And behold a certain lawyer stood up…” When we hear lawyer we think some guy in a business suit who works downtown and goes to court. When Luke talks about lawyers he is talking about men who were experts in the Mosaic Law. This was a man who knew his stuff. This was not just some Joe Schmoe off the street.
You can imagine Jesus teaching when this lawyer stands up and the crowd just hushes. They might have been like wow, here’s a spiritual man, someone who knows it all. And you notice, this religious man does ask a very good question.
He says, “Teacher what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Sounds innocent even spiritual enough. But Jesus knows his intentions and turns the tables on him by responding to his question with a question, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?”
Now what I want you to see is that the lawyer knew the Law very well. He says, “Love God with everything you’ve got and love your neighbor as yourself…” You remember that’s the same answer Jesus gave when someone came and asked him what were the greatest commandments. So this lawyer...he did know his stuff. But again Jesus sees right through him and confronts him with the standard he’s just described. “You have answered correctly, ‘Do this and you will live.’” The lawyer knew what Jesus was saying. He knew that he hadn’t done that. He knew that he couldn’t fully do that. He had been exposed. He could quote the law, but he couldn’t live up to it.
But verse 29, when confronted like that, how does he respond? “But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor…’”
It’s that phrase "wishing to justify himself" I want you to zone in on. Justify means here to prove that you are right.
So here’s a religious person who knew what the Word said who was confronted with his own failure to live up to what he claimed to know and how does he respond?
Does he repent?
He looks for a way to prove that he’s o.k. “Wishing to justify himself…”
Luke records that for a reason. He’s giving an incredible insight into the way so many times we shield ourselves from really having to respond to what Jesus is telling us to do. Instead of repenting, we seek to justify ourselves.
Listen carefully...you have to hear this. The Bible makes it clear that the command to love is of supreme importance. And yet we look out at the church and we look into Scripture and we find that oftentimes real religious Bible carrying people aren’t putting this command into practice and you know that’s a big problem and you wonder why they can hear about love and not change and the Bible gives us one major reason why.
We are confronted with what Scripture says and how we are failing to obey and then instead of getting down on our knees crying out to God to help us change and working on changing, we come up with all kinds of excuses why what was said doesn’t apply to us. Instead of repenting, we rationalize. Instead of confessing and forsaking our sin, which is the right response, we seek to deflect the command from ever really hitting us where we are at.
This response is so deep rooted, it’s almost instinctive. And you know what – it comes out in so many different ways. In the next several days we'll look at a number of the ways the Bible shows us that people go about justifying their lack of love. But for now, I'd ask you to cry out to God and ask him to reveal to you the areas in your life where you need to be more loving...and specifically ask him to help you not make excuses when you are not!