Does God love the IRS?

Scripture reading for January 10th: Matthew 9:1-17, Psalm 7:10-17, Proverbs 2:16-19

Have you ever been audited by the IRS?  Did your IRS agent invite you over to his or her house?    Jesus came by Matthew’s tax collection booth and called him to follow.  Matthew responded by leaving and following Him.   He invited Jesus to come over to his house and Jesus came and ate and laughed with Matthew’s “sinner” friends, causing quite a stir among the religious community!

“When the Pharisees saw this, they asked the 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 9:11-13)   Jesus loved all men, but He could only bring health to those who realized that they were sick.  Those who could not admit that they needed a doctor would not find healing.  Likewise, those who could not confess sin would not find repentance.

This is the danger of religion.  Religion reduces our righteousness or spiritual health to some man-made rules that we try to keep.  We are told that if we just do this or confess to that, all will be well with our soul.  The Pharisees of Jesus’ day meticulously tried to keep God’s law and judged those who did not do all that they had commanded.  Their pride in their religious good works blinded them to their need to confess and repent from their own sins.  (1st John 1:9)

Our Father sent Jesus to walk and live among His people, demonstrating His love and desire that all would repent and be made righteous.  Our righteousness is a gift of God by grace through faith in Jesus, not the result of our keeping His laws or man’s religious rules.   (Ephesians 2:8-10)  Jesus loves all sinners, even tax collectors like Matthew!  Responding to Jesus by repentance and faith leads to following Jesus and eternal life!  Praise the Lord for His mercy!   Thank God Jesus loved sinners enough to call them to follow Him and them eat and laugh with them!   May we show Christ’s love to the  lost and hurting people we come in contact with each day!

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