I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires. A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do. But if you are being led by the Spirit, you aren’t under the Law. The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious, since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, jealousy, drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. I warn you as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom.
In today’s world consider this scripture, and consider how we should be and act as followers of Jesus. How many followers of Jesus are acting in this negative way that Paul describes? I don’t know about anyone else, but my heart is convicted. If we claim that we are disciples of Jesus, if we claim to have a relationship with Jesus, if we have accepted Jesus into our heart, the Holy Spirit has many roles but we are all called to be guided by the spirit and these things listed in the scripture are not to be in our life.
It’s a scary list. Let’s just look at them one more time while we ask ourselves, “Do they exist in our day to day life lived.” What jumps out at you? sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, idolatry (this is a big one), drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, jealousy, drunkenness, partying, and other things like that.
I have highlighted those things which might apply to us yet we write off some of those things which we may all too often overlook in our life, as the middle class good moral people that we are. These might be things which we look at and forget about as we would rather compare ourselves to the “badder” people of the world, or just other people we know. Yet deep within us we can recognize that have yet to conquer them in ourselves, as they rise up and display themselves in our lives sometimes or all too often.
Parts of these things definitely exist in my life, how about you? Then Paul really drops the hammer – “I warn you as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom.” I propose that each and every one of us must feel somewhat convicted because some of these things exist in our everyday life.
Now if this has shaken you, then let me offer you the promise contained in 1 Corinthians 6:11 “And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Yes, don’t give up, don’t stay where you are, and don’t think that you are done growing towards being like Jesus. You were washed, sanctified, and justified before God if you repent, change direction daily and make a daily effort to grow.
For when you grow in your relationship with God you will ever be more in possession of the fruits of the spirit, you will display them every day and Paul listed them for us in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified self with its passions and its desires.
But again, assuming you feel convicted, does that not get you to the point of recognizing that it is only by the unbelievable free gift of God’s grace, the gift of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, that by accepting Him as your Savior, you will be able to stand before God on the judgment day and be accepted and not condemned. Now that’s amazing, yes amazing grace and it almost causes tears to come to my eyes when I think about it.
So this brings us to today’s scripture from Luke 7:36-50 and our sermon title “Right worship on Sunday and every day”. An alternate title is “Did you come to worship Jesus today or did you come to GET something from church today?”
One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. After he entered the Pharisee’s home, he took his place at the table. Meanwhile, a woman from the city, a sinner, discovered that Jesus was dining in the Pharisee’s house.
Did you catch that? A sinner knew Jesus was at the house. We sinners are at the Father’s house right now. We have definitely proved we are sinners from our Galatians discussion so guess what? When we talk to others about worshipping Jesus on Sunday, let’s eliminate verbal and nonverbal signals to others about how we are perfect, maybe they think they have to be perfect to be here and tell them to join us fellow sinners on Sunday. You don’t have to be perfect to be here. We all have fallen short of the glory of God!
She brought perfumed oil in a vase made of alabaster. Standing behind him at his feet and crying, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured the oil on them. Her actions my friends are what our worship should be and, AND, her actions should guide us, instruct us, on how we should live on Sunday as well as every day of our life.
Many read this story and assume she accepted Jesus after meeting Him. I vehemently disagree. She packed up an alabaster vase of perfumed oil for Jesus for her meeting with Him. She knew He was her Savior and when she was going to meet Him she took for Him something of great value for Him. And I doubt she knew what she was going to do with that perfume.
Maybe it was meant to just be an extravagant gift. You know, this man without a home could use an extravagant gift in His offering plate. If she just planned on going to wash his feet, olive oil was the usual thing to use, but no she packed the perfumed oil. On Sunday’s do we bring and put an extravagant gift in the offering plate or just the normal thing we have available? Each day that we live do we desire to give to Jesus extravagant gifts or just what we have left over of our time, talents and money?
Then she walks in and sees Jesus, her Savior, she knows she is a sinner, just like us, and she begins to cry. Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus reclines at this alter today. Feel and see His presence. If Jesus was here now physically, wouldn’t you cry just at the sight and presence of Him?
Jesus is here today. How then can we come today and not simply worship Him? How could we think about coming to church this Sunday and say to ourselves “I wonder what I will GET out of church today?” or “I am not going to church because I don’t feel fed.” This day, every Sunday, is a time to cry because we are in the presence of Jesus and His saving grace.
And doesn’t this carry over to our prayers and devotions each day? Jesus is present in your life every day. Doesn’t this make a mockery of us using Jesus just to fulfill our wish list and needs without thinking about and offering up our praise and worship? Praise and worship in prayer and living will lead us into truly believing and knowing that Jesus is here and He deserves our extravagant gifts. If we really believe in Jesus and give Him extravagant gifts, should we not trust Him to cover our basic needs and take care of us?
The woman entered crying understanding how her Savior had redeemed her sinful life and she sees that they have not given Jesus the common courtesy of washing His feet and placing olive oil on His feet in preparation for dinner. Now this sinner, like us, has a purpose for those tears she is shedding and the perfume she has brought.
Our tears have a home too. Our tears of repentance, our tears when we understand we still have sin in our life, have a place. They honor God when we shed them and use them for Jesus’, God’s purpose in the world. Recognition of His gift of life points us to using our gifts in service to the world. Even if it causes people to think we are crazy.
The tears wet Jesus’ feet and this sinner woman has the audacity to let down her hair and wipe them off. Wait a minute, is she crazy? After her tears she gives of herself, she gives her hair. She must be crazy because when she lets down her hair she immediately opens herself up to the public disgrace of divorce. Has she forsaken the safety of the world for such a rash decision to be devoted to Jesus?
Forsaking the safety of the world is what Jesus calls us to do on Sunday and everyday. During the past week have we forsaken the world for Jesus? What act in our life went against the logic of our day? Have we worshipped Him this morning with that same abandon? And did you see what she did next? She kissed the feet of Jesus. She hasn’t asked for a thing this whole time and lowers herself to a point of worship where she recognizes Him as God and simply gives of herself totally. Wouldn’t we today do the same if we really recognize Jesus’ presence? That’s worship. Women simply did not let their hair down in public.
But she shows us more about worship. She poured the perfume on those feet. She didn’t just get out the vase and give Him the leftover perfume she could spare for a little foot dabbing. I read into it that she poured it all on Him. This sinner woman gave everything to Jesus. She gave her service, she gave her present life, she was willing to sacrifice whatever social standing she had and she was willing to give her perfume which cost plenty…..in her worship of Jesus that day…without expectation of anything in return. That’s worship. Do we worship that way?
In our scripture, Jesus now speaks to Simon the Pharisee when he debated this woman’s presence in the room. “A certain lender had two debtors. One owed enough money to pay five hundred people for a day’s work. The other owed enough money for fifty. When they couldn’t pay, the lender forgave the debts of them both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the largest debt canceled.” Jesus said, “You have judged correctly.”
That’s the final point to this scripture. Simon the Pharisee had not worshipped Jesus. Simon had forgotten that while he was indeed more religious than the sinner woman, he still could not pay His debt to God. Simon had become complacent, lazy, and selfish in his relationship and worship to God. Simon believed he needed just a little forgiveness and had forgotten how to love God. Therefore he thought He knew God, he thought that God / Jesus should feed him answers, in essence serve him.
But the woman lived a life where she knew her debt to Jesus was huge, she had not forgotten it and so all she did was worship Jesus with everything she had. She expected nothing in return for her worship of Jesus in terms of money or her social life. This woman worshiped Jesus that day and then placed her life in God’s hands so she could be provided with her daily bread and more.
Why should we worship on Sunday or any day? It is a time to lay aside our selfishness, to understand our sinfulness, a time to bring tears to our eyes. When we recognize that may we find total devotion and true appropriate worship to Jesus today as well as every day.
When we are like this sinfilled devoted woman worshipping Jesus, let me read to you what Jesus told this woman at the end of our scripture:
If I may, I am changing the scripture to apply to each and every one of us,
This is why I tell you that your many sins have been forgiven; so you have shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus says to you, “Your sins are forgiven.” Jesus says to you, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”