For the longest time, I’ve had this little illustration bouncing around my brain with no place to put it. So here it is.
Imagine driving down the road, doing a mere 3 miles over the speed limit when a maniac flies by you, easily going 25 mph over the limit. You see red and blue flash in your rearview and think Good, they’re getting that lunatic.
But the cruiser hovers behind you instead of going after Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The cop sidles up to your window to shouts of furious protest. Are you kidding me?? That guy flew by me! Why aren’t you going after him?? He’s the REAL lawbreaker! I was just going 3 over!
The cop leans down and says, “You were breaking the law, weren’t you?”
“…and that’s why I pulled you over.”
See, it’s not the degree to which we break the law, but the fact that we break it at all. Our tendency is to point fingers and say, ‘Are you kidding me? Look at that guy! At least I’m not as bad as him!”
I think of the beautiful passage in Luke where a prostitute falls to her knees before Jesus and begins washing His feet with her hair. When His disciples are perturbed by this, Jesus tells them, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
A while ago, I realized what Jesus is actually saying in this passage. He is not saying that some of us have only sinned a little bit, and therefore, are only capable of loving in proportional amount. Rather, He is instructing us to recognize that we ALL have sinned as much as the next prostitute, and the more we are able to realize this, the more we will be able to love those around us.
It’s not about the quantity of sins you have committed, but about realizing that we all are equal in our depravity, and therefore, in need of a Savior.
This is why Jesus was so hard on those Pharisees(Religious teachers of the Law). The fact that they swept their sins under the cupboard only indicated to the Lord that they were, in fact, striving to be their own saviors.
The only difference between the Pharisees and the prostitutes is that one’s sins are out in the open for all to see, and the other does their best to seal up the cracks where anyone may see their faults. They can’t accept the help of a Savior.
I think Jesus gravitated more toward the Prostitutes and tax collectors because they already were in the proper mindset of
‘I am a sinner.
Everyone knows it.
I cannot save myself.
I need help.’
In fact, the case could be made that Jesus can ONLY save these kinds of people, for they’re the ones who are not busying themselves thinking they’re good enough to live without Him. The fact is, we all need Him, for we all have sinned against Him, turned our backs to Him, and slept with other lovers.
I love Donald Miller’s quote in Scary Close, “Grace only sticks to our imperfections. Those who can’t accept their imperfections can’t accept grace either.” The more we accept our flaws, fallenness, and brokenness, the more we can allow the Lord to come and heal us. The prostitutes who broke bread with Jesus were not pretending to be someone they weren’t. And for this reason, He was able to love them as they were.
I’m grateful that the ground before the cross is level ground.
I’m grateful that He still pursues us, the unfaithful lovers.
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.
Hi Ethan, I too am playing with a Christian blog (waitonechristianminute.blogspot.com) and so was interested in sampling yours. I have two comments: first I applaud you openness about your relationship with porn and second is a literary comment. In your latest blog you used the phrase “sweep it under the cabinet”. I would suggest either ” sweep it under the rug, or hide it in the cabinet.” Thanks. Ken
Thank you for being open so that others may gain something of worth from your obedience! It is so true – we are all in need of our Savior. We have all sinned and fallen short of His glory. Continue to point others toward Him!
Thanks so much for this. I have recently been struggling with being an unfaithful lover of God, and it was nice to hear someone else articulate it.
Saw you on Fox News this morning. It is awesome how God opens doors we never dreamed possible. Stay focused and let God use you in ways you never dreamed. God bless!
Right on! The 9nly perfect person was Jesus we all fall short we all need salvation, love and compassion!
Thank you for sharing yoir heart!!
Wow. Thank you, this opened my understanding. I suppose that is also why repentance is so important. If you don’t think something is a sin or “that bad”, you wont be sincere in your repentance, and therefore won’t think you ‘need’ forgiveness. Thats like telling God, “I got this”, and closing off your heart from sanctification.
I often find that non-Christians are more engaged in conversations about God than people who call themselves Christians. Almost as if thinking they are already saved means there’s nothing more to learn. Anyway, just an observation.
When I read Romans 8 vs 38 I knew that I was having a woman at the well moment. Where despite my past Jesus was there loving me, for me! And offering me eternally life and everlasting water. 15 years on and I remember that day like it was yesterday 🙂
This is just so, so good. What a beautiful reminder that our Lord forgives all. No matter what our struggles and downfalls, He will bless us with his forgiveness and grace. He knows our flaws before we even lay them at His feet. His unending love is so sweet.
Hey Ethan, I just want to thank you for your blog posts and for being the witness you are. I saw your interview the other night and then your follow up when you said how much you love Jesus. I don’t know what it was, but it caused me to follow you and your blog and it has opened my eyes toward Jesus again this week. It’s hard to explain, but through seeing you and then reading your blog and understanding the struggles and experiences you’ve had it is so much of a comfort to me in such a strange way. I have thought more about Jesus this week than I have in years and I just want to thank you for that. I am so encouraged by your love for Jesus and just wanted to share what an impact it’s been on me this week. Prayers for you brother as we walk through this journey for Him. -Trey Moeller
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Man, this is so good. Where would we be without the gospel? I’ve been learning over and over, that is what everything boils down to. So grateful for third and fifth chances…for tailor made grace. Ethan, thank you for being willing to be open and vulnerable. You have such rich things to say. Glad I stumbled on your blog.
Great blog! I liked how you interpreted that story from the bible. It’s funny, cause I just read a similar story this morning in the great book (bible). The story about Lazarus wife washing Jesus feet with expensive perfume. Sometimes I feel that we forget to humble ourselves. I think Jesus went after the prostitutes and tax collectors because they were missing a part of them, and it says that He is close to those that are hurting & who are lost. But in the end of the day there is power in the name of Jesus, we just got to ask and humble ourselves in his presence.
Well said…. how my heart needs these reminders continually.
And I love the Scary Close reference, such a good book!
Hi Mr. E, I loved it. It is so true, we love to point fingers, but I always say that even the most horrible sin ever imagined Gods mercy and love is bigger than it. We just need to repent from heart and God will help you overcome any sin that you keep falling into again and again. Barbara Gomez, “The Puerto Rican in a Wisconsin world “
Sometimes I get in this mindset where I think that I know every story in the Bible already so there’s nothing left to learn. I have heard sermon after sermon about the prostitute at the well from growing up in the church and four years of chapel at a Christian university, but today I am reminded that there is still much more to learn from this story. Different people have different interpretations, but I love how God uses the uniqueness of our minds to reveal Himself to others.
I struggle with feeling a more heavy burden from the sins I have commited, and often need to ne reminded of the fact that all our sins are seen the same by our creator!
I love the quote about grace, once we fully accept out sins can we fully accept his grace!
Thanks for sharing!
Merry Christmas 🙂
When you realize that you need a Savior, it makes sense. I am so thankful for Jesus. I am so thankful that He was the propitiation for my sins, and that I am free! Thank you for this blog!