Who Gets Into the Kingdom of God?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
"I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do."
Many of the religious leaders in Jesus' day were snared by their own self-righteousness. They looked down upon ones they considered to be hopeless "sinners," people like tax collectors and prostitutes. Yet Jesus confronted them with the truth that such "sinners" would enter the Kingdom of God before they did.
Why would this be true? For one thing, entrance to God's kingdom requires repentance, the complete turning around of your life for God. If you're impressed by Your own righteousness, you're not a good candidate for repentance. But if you're aware of your sins and sorry for them, you're not far from the kingdom.
Another reason that tax collectors and prostitutes are first in line for the kingdom has to do with the grace and mercy of God. When God reigns, forgiveness flourishes. Those who turn to God, confessing their sins, will be cleansed of their sins. They get a fresh start in relationship with their gracious King.
Though it's right for us to seek to live rightly in obedience to God's Word, we must never trust in our own righteousness. Living in God's kingdom requires that we come to him as sinners, confessing our failures and receiving his amazing grace.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you more like the religious officials in this story, or the "sinners"? In your effort to live rightly, do you find it tempting to look down upon others, even to get caught up in your own pride? How often do you come before God in confession and repentance?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord, I must confess my own tendency to be like the religious leaders in this story. I can so easily look down upon "sinners." It's a way for me to feel better about myself. Yet in my prideful blindness, I fail to live in your kingdom. I make myself the king and judge, rather than humbling myself before you. Forgive me, Lord!
The truth is that I am as much in need of your grace as any notorious "sinner." My sins might be more secret, more nuanced, more easily rationalized. But I am every bit a tax collector and prostitute in my heart. Thank you, dear Lord, for extending your grace even to one like me!
Give me fresh compassion for sinners, even and especially those I tend to judge in my heart. As I am renewed by your gracious forgiveness, may I be generous toward others. When I see people caught in sin, rather than condemning them so that I might feel better about myself, may my heart be moved for them. May I reach out with your love, sharing with them the grace you have lavished upon me. Amen.