For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Hebrews 5:1-2
Condemnation is a terrible thing. It’s bad when I inflict it on myself but it’s just as bad when I bring it down on someone else’s head. If I set myself up to be above them, then I will have a negative reaction when they fail. I’ll say, “How could you do such a thing?” This drives the one I am condemning away from the cross, not towards it. It multiples shame and makes it that much more difficult for that person to accept God’s love and forgiveness.
Choosing a high priest was a serious business. He was to take sin seriously but within the parameters of his own personal humility. He was called to serve the spiritual needs of others, not use his position to make them feel small. He was to deal gently with their failings because he was very much in touch with his own weaknesses. How easy it was for priests to become drunk with their own importance and create more laws for the common man. They made their burden heavy and that’s what Jesus condemned!
I am to take this scripture in on a personal level. In the New Testament, I am told that as a believer, I am part of the kingdom of priests. I am here to serve others’ spiritual needs, to be an agent of reconciliation, bearing them up with humility and patience.
- Am I soft on my own sin, excusing my own behavior?
- Am I soft on others’ sins because my sensitivity is dulled by my own waywardness?
- Have I found the balance between loving righteousness while living in God’s grace?
- Do I have an innate understanding of how easily I am tempted to do the unthinkable?
- Do I offer that same consideration to others?
- Do people around me find me someone to whom they can confess their sins and share their burdens?
The qualification for priests has not changed. What has changed is who it is that serves in the role. It is now you. It is now me. If I am authentic on my journey about my own propensity to sin, if I am generous with stories about my need for confession, and if I am brimming over with personal accounts of God’s mercy and forgiveness, then I fulfill the qualifications of today’s scripture. A brother or sister who has lost their way will find me an agent of healing as they return to cross centered living. What I daily receive, I can give away effectively. But what I try to teach outside of personal experience, this will always falls flat.
Show me if my own sin still condemns me. I need You to be my High Priest today before I can help anybody else. Amen