Ever think about the labels we put on people, especially those we don’t know or know well? Here’s a few for you: Glutton, wino, drunk, crazy (years ago the word implied being “demon-possessed”). These were labels given to Jesus Christ (see Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34, John 8:45-50) by the religious folks and others during His time on earth. He was also labeled “a friend of sinners” (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34) which is the only accurate label in the list. So accurate, in fact, that He went all the way to the cross for sinners.
Imagine looking through your family tree and finding this description of your ancestor: “A prostitute, she harbored enemies of the government in her house. When she was confronted by the authorities, she lied about it.”
What would you do about her? Hide her story from anyone inquiring about your family? Or spotlight and praise her in the legends of your family’s story?
Meet Rahab. If what we read about her in Joshua 2 were all we knew, we might lump her in with all of the other renegades and bad examples in the Bible. But her story doesn’t stop there. Matthew 1:5-6 reveals that she was King David’s great-great grandmother—and that she was in the lineage of our Savior, Jesus. And there’s more. Hebrews 11:31 names Rahab as a woman of faith who was saved from the fall of Jericho (see Josh. 6:17). And in James 2:25, her works of rescue were given as evidence of her righteous faith.
God’s love is amazing that way. He can take people with a bad reputation, transform their lives, and turn them into examples of His love and forgiveness. If you think you’re too bad to be forgiven or if you know someone else who feels that way, read about Rahab and rejoice. If God can turn her into a beacon of righteousness, there’s hope for all of us. ~Dave Branon
Redemption’s price our Savior paid
When all our sins on Him were laid;
He took our guilt, He bore our shame
That we may glorify His name.~D. DeHaan
Whether our sins are great or small,
Jesus is able to forgive them all.
“He (God) can take people with a bad reputation, transform their lives, and turn them into examples of His love and forgiveness.” So why is it we don’t cut others much slack? Why is it we are so quick to judge others especially when we don’t know all the facts? We condemn but Jesus doesn’t. We throw others on the garbage heap with our labeling and our gossip, but Jesus takes them where they are at and cleans them up and totally changes their lives. The only problem Jesus had with people was with the “religious folks” of His day, and you can read what He had to say in Matthew 23. It’s not very pretty . . . .
I’m reading an excellent book recently published by Chosen Books (Baker Publishing Group) titled, “Fearless Daughters of the Bible” (2012) by J. Lee Grady. He also has a blog, “Fire in My Bones,” at CharismaMag.com and is the founder of The Mordecai Project, a Christian ministry devoted to healing, protecting and empowering women around the world. The book is about 22 women who challenged tradition, fought injustice and dared to lead and includes many examples of modern day women as well as their biblical counterparts such as Sarah (Abraham’s wife and the mother of Isaac), Ruth (the Moabite who married Boaz), Hannah (the mother of Samuel), Esther (Queen of Persia), Deborah (Judge of Israel), and many others to include unnamed women like the five daughters of Zelophehad, and the Samaritan woman.
At the beginning of the chapter titled “Ruth, the Moabite” (with a subtitle of “The Courage to Forsake the Past”), pp. 53-67, I was surprised by an easily overlooked fact that the author points out in four verses from the genealogy of Jesus Christ at the beginning of Matthew (1:3-6). Here’s that passage:
“Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.”
Since Lee Grady explains it much better than I can, the following three paragraphs are from his book on pp. 54-55:
“God reveals His amazing mercy in the details of this list. Notice that among these descendants of Abraham, four women are mentioned. This is highly unusual since women were rarely listed in genealogies during the time of Christ. What is even more striking is the type of women who are included. For one thing, three of the four women are Gentiles–and although Bathsheba was probably a Jew, her husband was a Hittite. So much for ‘racial purity’ in Christ’s lineage.
“Secondly, each of the women mentioned represents a moral scandal. Tamar’s relationship with Judah, her father-in-law, was illicit (she posed as a prostitute and he slept with her, and then tried to cover up his sin before he was exposed); Rahab ran a brothel in Jericho; David had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba (and then had her husband killed to cover his tracks). And Ruth? She was from Moab–a land outside the borders of Israel that was founded by Lot through an incestuous relationship with his older daughter.
“Prostitution. Incest. Adultery. This sounds more like ‘The Jerry Springer Show’ or ‘Desperate Housewives’ than a biblical narrative! But it reveals another amazing thing about the Bible: Scripture does not offer us a sanitized view of life. The Bible is raw. It tells us how God works with broken, sinful people, and it does not mask their problems or hide their flaws. It should comfort all of us that Jesus Christ’s earthly family had plenty of skeletons in its primitive closets. He was born into a dysfunctional family–and that should give hope to all of us who need forgiveness and cleansing from the ugly secrets of our past.”
Gives new meaning to what Jesus had to say in Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” doesn’t it? I’m not pointing fingers as I’ve been there plenty of times myself. We all have skeletons in our closet–every last one of us. And many times we judge others from the gossip we hear about them without even knowing them. And reputations and lives are demeaned and destroyed by the labels we’ve placed on others and by gossip spread for less than altruistic reasons (and many times for selfish and self-serving reasons).
The next time we find ourselves ready to label or gossip about another person for any reason and especially if the information was received by way of gossip–whether in the work place, or church, or out in the public arena or some other type of social gathering, or walking by a homeless person on the street–stop and remember the skeletons in your own closet. How would you fare if your life was put on display in a 24/7 reality show for all the world to see, for example? Not a pretty picture, is it?
Glutton, wino, drunk, crazy . . . the folks back in Jesus’ day were dead wrong about Him. Jesus was the only sinless person to ever walk this earth (and He is the only Son of God), and He came to save sinners–that’s all of us, folks.
That’s all of us . . . .
So let us remember instead. . .
“There but for
the grace of God, go I”
~John Bradford (1510-1555)
YouTube Video: “China Grove” (1973) by the Doobie Brothers:
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