Daily Devotion for January 31, 2015

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 9:12, 13).

Scripture: Matthew 9:9-17
Song: “People Need the Lord”

They say that bad company corrupts good character. Apparently Jesus didn’t agree. He was rebuked by the Pharisees for eating with tax collectors and sinners.
Tax collectors were known to be cheats. They manipulated scales, weights, and tax rates. Most would see no distinction between tax collectors and “those sinners.”
Jesus often confronted what might be considered conventional wisdom. His teaching was sometimes the opposite of what we’d expect. For example, in this case, it’s not avoiding those of corrupt character that’s important. It’s redeeming them.
As we see folks who may be out of step with God, it’s important to remember: God might want to use us as instruments of His redeeming love. Bad company need not corrupt good character. Rather, the character of Jesus, dwelling in us, can influence the “company” He attracts as we go through each day.
It’s easy to write off those who seem to be sinners. But that leaves many sitting at the tax collector’s booth, ready to follow Jesus if we would only issue the invitation.

Merciful God, I have passed by some of those who sit at the tax collector’s booth. It’s difficult to minister to those whose sin seems so obvious, but I pray You will give me the words to share. For my own sin is ever before me. Through Christ, amen.

— Scripture: Matthew 9:9-17