The Lord taught me a most wonderful, power lesson this past Sunday that I pray I will treasure all my life. Church was packed, especially because we had an extra 14 brothers and sisters from Washington and New Mexico. This missions team has come down to install a heating system in our new house as well as build cabinets, insulate and hang sheet rock, paint in the orphanage and of course love on the children.
It was beautiful seeing the church full of people singing their hearts out in adoration to our Lord. As we transitioned into the bible study, I took my usual seat in the back to usher. Sitting about 5 feet from me was a gentleman that has come to church off and on, sometimes sober while other times drunk. This time in particular was the latter. Not only did he smell of alcohol but also of urine and body odor from probably not showering for a few days. The smell was almost unbearable. My initial thought was I need to ask this guys to sit outside. As scenarios ran through my mind of just how to go about asking him to step outside, the Lord immediately and strongly began to speak to my heart.
Who was I to ask this man to leave the sanctuary? It wasn't like he was being disrespectful or disrupting anything. He was simply sitting there listening to the words of Jesus. Why was I more deserving to sit in the service than this man? Or anyone else for that matter sitting in the sanctuary? Was it because I got to take a hot shower that morning or had clean clothes to put on? Maybe because I showed up on time for service, sang the songs or even lifted my hands during worship? What made me more deserving that Sunday morning than this drunk smelling man? Absolutely NOTHING!
You see that's the very message Jesus was speaking about in the gospel of Luke 18:10-14...
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Sunday morning I was that pharisee when I should have been the tax collector, asking God to forgive me and be merciful to me, to change my way of thinking about this brother next to me.
You know what probably was the most powerful part of that lesson? While I was bearing the smell of alcohol, urine and BO, it was actually a sweet fragrance to the Lord. Here sat one of Gods beloved, one whom He went to the cross for. Here was a lost sinner, in need of hearing Gods precious words of life.
Isn't that the very reason why we answered the call to move down to Mexico and start an orphanage, 3 1/2 years ago? To minister to the hurting, broken, lost, smelling children and others that are desperately in need of the very Savior that spared and saved my life.
God, please help us to not slip into the thinking of a pharisee. May we be reminded that we are nothing more then smelly tax collectors who have been saved by Gods amazing grace, purchased by Jesus' very own blood!