A life of beauty from ashes
because you gave me mercy
when I deserved misery…

Scripture for Today: Matthew 9:9-13 (NIV)  As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew was a bad man. He took what wasn’t his to take. He was selfish. He was unrighteous. He was a sinner. And that is what he was when Jesus met him. Yet, Jesus called to him. Jesus reached for his hand and said, “Follow Me!” The religious leaders of the time were witness to this travesty. How could Jesus choose Matthew to go with him.  Even more importantly…why did Matthew go? I imagine he was fairly well off holding this position…so why would a man with his power, connections, money want to get up from his tax collecting chair and follow Jesus. What was he thinking?

This begs the question…Why did I leave my “tax collecting” life behind? Aren’t I just as bad? Haven’t I taken what wasn’t mine to take? Aren’t I selfish? Unrighteous? Aren’t I a sinner? And yet…Jesus called me to him, just like Matthew. As I try to put the overwhelming flood of feelings to words, I choke. I choke because what I deserve isn’t a life of freedom or forgiveness. What I deserve is misery. A misery that would leave me chained to a long list of selfish deeds, of careless words and thoughts. A misery that would have lead me to a path of destruction so far from Jesus that I might never have recovered. A life of darkness and despair. BUT…Jesus did not ‘come to call the righteous, but sinners’. And that is why I followed him. He choose me.

I stand firm in Christ, in the light of day. FREE. Mercy given. Beauty from the ashes of bad decisions.

Have you ever watched a stranger, a friend or family member find this mercy? Do you question if it’s true. If they REALLY are changing? After all, aren’t they sinners in your eyes? I challenge you to remember your decision to follow Jesus. Remember the pain and the dirt you walked away from to follow Him. There were those that questioned your motives. Those that didn’t think you were good enough for Christ. Hallelujah that it only matters what Jesus thinks. You see–He says…you are worth it. He asks you to follow him. He knows your weakness, your unbelief, your mistakes…and He chooses you anyway. But you must get up out of your sinful place and intentionally follow him! He won’t make you go. His invitation is real, but the decision is yours. Mercy or Misery. What’ll it be? I chose Him. He gave Mercy. I give praise!

 

Scripture references: Matthew 9:9, Psalm 145:3, Acts 5:41, 2 Thessalonians 1:5, John 14:6