The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated. Luke 13:15-17
No one likes to be shown up. Ever had a family member who needed to ‘one-up’ everyone else’s stories? It was nearly impossible to share anything exciting because before you finished your story, that person had already figured out how to top it. They didn’t listen well. They were preoccupied with how they could remain the center of attention.
There is a story recorded in Luke where this dynamic was evident. The Pharisees criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabbath but when He answered their confrontational questions, His holiness was on full display. They were humiliated. Unable to cover their sin, they felt exposed and became angry. His perfection burned like fire against the grain of their own self-righteousness.
I am not perfect; only God is. I can spend a lifetime running from this truth, trying to justify myself in others’ eyes to heighten their perception of me. Or, I can own the truth of my sinful condition. The real question is this: Is it safe to be exposed for what I am before a righteous God? The answer is yes. It’s frees me in every way possible to accept the undeserved gifts of love, forgiveness, and redemption. It underscores the truth of the Gospel that what I have, in Christ, has not been earned. What I have, He has freely given because His nature is to love and lavish grace upon the undeserving.
The next question is also critical. Is it safe to admit to others that I’m flawed? Yes. But I will only dare risk authenticity when I am secure in God’s unconditional love for me. If I remain a ‘respect junkie’, I will forever hide behind the facade of perfection.
Anyone who is not yet overwhelmed with the love of God still strives to redeem themselves before men. Their world begins and ends with who it is that thinks highly of them.
Approval, respect, admiration. Break whatever addictions remain. Amen