Did Jesus really hang out with sinners?

truth

Evangelism training has left many well-meaning Christians at a loss.  Should we stand on the street corner and proclaim the Gospel?  Or should we spend years building rapport with people before we ever even breach the topic of faith?  Should we love, welcome and accept everyone regardless of their lifestyles and choices?  Or should we expect people to live in the world, but not act like the world?  Does the Bible really teach us to love the sinner but hate the sin?  How did Jesus really do it?

The United States is quickly becoming a post-Christian culture, as much of Europe already is.  It is no longer expected that people go to Church on Sundays, and there are many amongst us who have never darkened the doors of a Church.  It is trendy and cool to explore the world religions, develop one’s own Spirituality by merging any myriad of teachings, and while there are many who claim to be spiritual and have faith, there are few who truly submit to any one teacher.  We essentially believe that we have the autonomy to create our own belief system and thus make ourselves out to be our own gods.

With this blurring of lines and lack of true adherence to one religion or teacher, it has become a curious reality that many will quote Jesus, claim parts of His teachings and even try to corner more devout followers with attributes of His life.  Most poignantly, Christians and non-Christians alike regularly declare that Jesus never judged anyone, he hung out with sinners, and Jesus is essentially made out to be just one of the guys who happened to preform a lot of miracles and taught a lot of people.

With whom, however, did Jesus really spend His time?  Of his twelve disciples, we know that some were fishermen and Matthew was a tax collector (a government employee).  Mary Magdalene was possessed by 7 demons, but Jesus freed her from those (Luke 8.2).  John the Baptist was a prophet and had taken the Nazarite vow – he was as holy as could be.  Nicodemus was on the Sanhedrin and Joseph of Arimethea (who buried Jesus) was on the religious council – Jewish teachers and leaders.

Scripture teaches us that Jesus was widely regarded as a religious teacher.  He also preformed many miracles.  Most of these miracles were helping people whom the pious considered “sinners” or “dirty”.  Jesus most commonly gets the reputation for having hung out with sinners because of two specific incidents:

“As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him.  Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?’  But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means: “I desire compassion and not a sacrifice,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”

– Matt 9.9-13

When Jesus called Matthew to be one of his disciples, the pious religious teachers were confused and judgmental.

The other common story is the stoning of the woman caught in adultery:

“The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?’  They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.  But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’  Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court.  Straightening up, Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’  She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.'”

– John 8.3-11

We see much about the character and heart of Jesus in both of these stories.  On the most basic level we can observe that Jesus did in fact interact and eat with “sinners”.  He also intervened on the behalf of a woman who was either sleeping with a man who was not her husband or sleeping with someone else’s husband.  This is no small matter.

To simply leave the observation there, however, is inadequate at best, and wicked at worst.  Jesus did in fact interact with those whom the world considered sinners.  He also interacted with those whom the world considered righteous or holy.  Interestingly enough, He was in the temple teaching the religiously devout when the Pharisees brought the woman before Him (John 8.2).  He regularly went to the temple, he often met with religious leaders, and some of his disciples were religious leaders like the Pharisees.  Jesus did not have a type with whom He normally chose to associate.

He associated with those who came to Him.

This is a jarring reality.  Jesus had an intentional plan and agenda.  He went to specific towns, followed the leadership of the Spirit, and ultimately went to Jerusalem where He was crucified.  He met many people along the way.  Some were unsuspecting, like the Samaritan woman at the well and the twelve disciples when He called them.  But by-in-large, His reputation and His presence drew a crowd.  He was continually surrounded by people wanting to hear Him teach and looking for a miracle.  We have no stories of Jesus in Scripture casually wandering into a bar or “sinner’s hangout”, just to blend in with the people.

Jesus also never trivialized or condoned sin.

Everyone who has ever been born has sinned.  Except for Jesus.  This is the foundation of Jesus’ profound response to the Pharisees who sought to kill the adulteress.  Even the Pharisees, who were pious and religious, knew that they were not perfect and without sin – thus none were able or willing to throw the first stone at the woman.  However, after He proved their guilt before the crowd, Jesus turned to the woman and strongly commanded her to “go and sin no more”.  He did not condone her adultery.  He did not excuse her sin on the basis that everyone sins, He told her to change.  He knew that in a very short time He Himself would pay the penalty for her adultery and all other sin.  He was giving her no leeway or freedom to continue in her lifestyle, He was profoundly offering forgiveness by preparing to take her place on the cross.

With Matthew and the tax collectors, Jesus also boldly proclaimed that He was there to call the sinners to righteousness stating simply that the sick need a healer.  All of humanity is sick, and we all need a healer.  Jesus is that healer.  He was not dining with the tax collectors to condone their theft and abuse of the people, He was eating with them calling them to righteousness.

What then is the application?  Jesus regularly preached to the masses and He also had intimate conversations one-on-one with people.  Jesus spent three years teaching and training the disciples, but he also sent people out to be His witness after a single encounter.  Jesus condemned some sinners for their sin and encouraged others to repentance.

In short, there is no science to evangelism and disciple-making.  Every person is unique.  Some people are sinning and know that they are sinning, but are ready to repent.  Some people are sinning and know that they are sinning but are not ready to repent.  Some people are sinning and do not know that they are sinning!  Each situation is dramatically different and should be handled intentionally.  Some people are open to instruction in a group setting while others prefer instruction that is specific to their situation and personality.

What is vitally important, however, is Jesus’ clear example of never entertaining sin.  He build intentional relationships with people and spoke truth clearly from interaction number one.  He never welcomed or overlooked sin, but intentionally pushed each person according to their disposition and personality. Even so, however, almost everyone deserted Him.  There were many times throughout His ministry that the crowds came to Him to listen to Him preach or to receive healing and His teaching was too difficult for them to hear – so they left.  Many times people sought to kill Him – both the religious leaders and the crowd.  And we all know that ultimately they did kill Him, with even the twelve disciples being scattered.

Because of this reality, the biggest misunderstanding about Jesus and His interactions is not always the “who” but the “how”.  Jesus never just hung out with people.  He was always teaching, building up, healing, praying, and fulfilling His mission on Earth.  We must live with this type of urgency and intentionality.

There is very much a place for “relational evangelism” today.  However, we often use that term as an excuse to avoid the topics of sin and salvation.  We think that we will just be friends with non Christians and “sinners” and hopefully one day they will see what is different about us and ask.  Jesus’ relational evangelism was the exact opposite, however.  The truth was always boldly proclaimed and he continued to work with people towards the goal of their understanding and salvation.  We cannot condone sin.  We cannot overlook it and pretend it isn’t there.  But we also must remember that the greater problem is salvation – it serves no good to clean up a person’s actions if they have not yet met Jesus.

In short, Jesus hung out with anyone who wanted to hang out with Him.  However, in every situation He was intentional and spoke truth.  We should strive to be like Jesus.  We should engage everyone, speak truth with everyone, and adapt that truth fittingly to every situation and personality.  Let’s live with urgency and intentionality!

Resolved.

new years resolution

New Year’s is just a few days away, and many New Year’s resolutions will be made.  Have you started thinking about yours?  Will you aim to eat better?  Or exercise more?  Perhaps you will simplify your schedule or get more rest.  Many will aim to be more spiritual – praying more, meditating, reading the Bible daily, and the like.

But there are also many who refuse to set a resolution because they know they will break it.  I knew someone who struggled so much in school and discipline that he simply refused to set any goals.  The fear of failing to meet them was so great and the guilt associated with it led him to remain as he was, as a guy in his late twenties.  He said, “I would only be setting myself up for failure”.

It is true, any goal that is set is an opportunity for failure.  But it is also true that unless we set goals or make an effort, nothing will ever be accomplished.  It is true on the micro level:  if you do not make a plan for the day, you will forget to go to the grocery store after work, or bring your workout clothes to hit the gym.  But it is also true on the macro level:  you have to apply to college and start classes to earn a degree, you have to send out your resume to get a job, and start lessons to learn a skill.

But the reality is that our relationship with God is more than just a goal.  Our spirituality is more than just dedication.  Goals, however, can enhance a relationship and a Spirituality.  Even in the midst of our emotion-driven society that believes love should be easy and euphoric, most will ultimately admit that marriage is hard work, and relationships take effort to maintain.  They might be born in emotion and initially driven by passion, but after time that can fade and commitment must mark our choices in order to maintain intimacy and happiness.

In the same way, there are times that our Spiritual walk and relationship with God will be easy and natural.  But there are other times when we are distracted, too busy, frustrated, or over stimulated and pleased with our physical lives that we neglect our relationship with God, and it will take a conscious effort and decision to pray, read the Bible, meditate and listen to the Holy Spirit.  And the nature of having discipline or a goal does not take away from the authenticity of the relationships – quite the opposite, in fact.  It portrays our convictions and passions to intentionally set aside that time, even in the midst of everything else.  A wife feels loved and valued when a husband takes time out of his day to call, to stop for flowers or to take her on a date where they can talk deeply.  She actually feels more honored that he would value her enough to go through to effort of planning.

Not only is it not disrespectful or disingenuous to set aside a specific time to pray or have a quiet time every day, it is also not an expectation or sin for which God will condemn us if we fail.  If you have a standing phone date with a friend, and you forget once or twice, that friend will forgive you if it is not your habit to forget.  If you need to reschedule a lunch date with your wife, she will understand if you are not in the habit of blowing her off.  If you consistently forget or blow off your relationships, however, there will grow a distance between you and a very real problem is established.  The same is true with God.  You cannot have a relationship with God and be Spiritually healthy if you neglect Him.  If you oversleep one morning, however, or have a change of schedule and have your quiet time in the afternoon instead of the morning, He will not consider you a failure.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”

– John 15.4-6

Jesus commands us to abide in Him.  The term abide can be difficult to understand, as we rarely use it in day-to-day language.  The Greek term used translates as “to remain, to not depart” and also “to continue to be present, to continue to be held or kept”.  The implication is continual interaction and relationship.  Jesus explains Himself with the imagery of the vine.  A branch depends on the vine for sustenance and life.  A branch cannot survive, produce fruit or grow unless is draws sap from the vine.  So we, when we are Spiritually born, must draw our Spiritual life from Jesus.  We cannot live, grow or bear fruit unless we stay connected to Jesus.

So as the new year approaches, let’s be bold to set a goal to go deeper with Jesus.  He will not be mad at you if you miss a day or two, and will not consider you a failure.  Quite the opposite, in fact, the commitment to and any progress towards greater intimacy with Him is a beautiful reality that will strengthen your Spiritual walk, health and maturity.  Let us not put a weight on ourselves that He hasn’t put on us, but let us abide in Him and draw our life and strength from Him as our source, as our vine.

You will find that as you begin those habits, it will soon turn into a situation where you long for your time with the Lord and needing to reschedule from the morning to afternoon will leave you ready and excited for that time.  Or missing a morning will leave your day lacking.  Let’s change our attitudes about resolutions, not seeing it as an opportunity for failure but rather an opportunity to grow and change.  Let’s not beat ourselves up and give up if we miss a few days, but find commitment anew by the encouragement and strength we draw from the days we succeed!

How will you commit to the Lord this year?

Are you a pursuer, or a pursuee?

Separation

The idea of community has changed dramatically in the US in the last generation.  Cars, garages, cell phones and the internet have made us very independent and an over saturation of entertainment has isolated us into our little boxes we call homes.  Many of us long for deep and real relationship, but grow exhausted just thinking about the effort it would require to build it, and when time rolls around to go out after a long day or work, or with a list of chores to do around the house, many of us prefer to just stay in.

But one of the major problems that we have as a society nowadays in building relationships is our cultural narcissism.  We want to be pursued.  We do not want to make the effort to reach out to those around us, we want them to reach out to us.  We dress it up in all sorts of ways.  The insecure say, “I do not want to bother them or be a nuisance”.  The arrogant say, “I reached out last time, if he wants to hang out with me he needs to reach out”.  And the oblivious say, “Why doesn’t anyone call me?”  Me.  Me.  Me.  Poor little ol’ me, no body likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.

People who make us feel good about ourselves are the popular people because when we think about community, we are really only thinking about having something to do and having someone love me.  Not loving someone else.

We were created for community.  But not just for hanging out and having fun.  We, as Christians, were made to work together to make a cohesive whole, the Church:  the body of Christ.

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

– Rom 12.4-5

In order to fulfill the Great Commission, we need each other.  In order to be held accountable in our Spiritual growth, we need each other.  In order to obey God, we need each other.  But not only that, we have been given dynamic instructions in how we think about and relate to one another:

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant,and being made in the likeness of men.”

– Phil 2.3-7

Consider one another as more important than yourself.  And what did Jesus say?

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

– Matt 22.39

We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to look at for their interests before and above our own.  You love yourself enough to eat good food, get the clothes that you like, fix up your house just right, get pets, entertain yourself, set up retirement…when was the last time you sought those things out for your neighbor?  Made sure that someone in your church was settled in all of those creature comforts and needs?

But on a simpler level, when was the last time you reached out?  Jesus essentially commanded us to be pursuers.  How will we know if someone is hurting, if someone is in need, if someone is lonely, if we do not pick up the phone and give him a call, or shoot a text, or write an email?  How can we make disciples if we sit around and wait for people to pursue us?  In case you haven’t noticed folks, people aren’t drawn to Christianity.

“There is none righteous, not even one;
there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God;
all have turned aside, together they have become useless;
there is none who does good, there is not even one.”

– Rom 3.10-12

No one is out there seeking after God.  We have to take God to them.  And we have to be the humble ones who reach out first, who take the offense, who forgive the grudge, who make the effort.  Why?  Because Jesus humbled Himself and came to Earth to save and forgive us, and we are supposed to be like Jesus.  He reached out to us.  We must reach out to one another.

Do you want to be pursued?  We all do.  None of us likes feeling un-liked.  No one likes feeling like they always have to make the effort.  But if that is the most uncomfortable aspect of our Christian walks, we have it pretty easy.  So get out there.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Start looking around and seeing the needs around you, and start reaching out to others.  Find the new people.  Find the lonely.  Be the body.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

– Heb 10.23-25

Sometimes you do not belong.

outsider

Twice in my life I have lived in big cities where almost everyone is transient.  People are in search of community, people are independent, people are unreliable, but you can always find friends and someone to do something with.  Twice in my life I have moved into communities where almost everyone is home-grown, somehow related to everyone else, they are tight nit and no matter how much they think they like you and no matter how long you live amongst them, you will always be an outsider because you are not blood.  And twice in my life I have lived in foreign cities where I was an outsider by every meaning of the word: language, skin color, values, religion, everything.

There are times in your life when you know you just do not belong.  It’s like that last day each year in college, you have just taken your last final exam, you walk through the dormitory and half of the residents have already packed up and headed home for the summer, you no longer have a reason to be there and you get that empty feeling in the pit of your stomach and you know it is time to go home.  But sometimes it lasts for weeks, or months, or years.  You will never be a native, once you have moved.  And in some places that means nothing, but in other places that means everything.  Relationally, anyway.  We chronically live our lives in cliques and cool kid clubs.

After Jesus returned to Heaven and the early church was planted, there was much persecution and Christians were scattered.  They were forced out of their homes and they had to flee for their lives, settling in foreign communities.  They were outsiders.  They were not blood.  But they were born of the Holy Spirit and had the bond with God of being His child.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

– Eph 2.19-22

Since the Church at large was being persecuted and scattered, the unifying factor for believers was their faith, and no longer blood.  They were one in Christ and found their community and comfort in caring for one another and corporately relying on God.  They were being nit together, formed into a temple for the Holy Spirit.  Often we misunderstand the purpose of the Church and individual faith, considering ourselves to be lone ranger believers who are each a temple of the Holy Spirit.  But we learn here that we, corporately, make the Church and in unity with one another become the temple; the dwelling place for Him.

When we function as the body, we have a place and we belong.  But it is not our ultimate home.

For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

– Heb 13.14

We were saved unto an eternal salvation and will one day be taken “home” to be with the father, forever.  Only there, in our new and glorified bodies will we truly belong.  Only there will we be blood, will we be native, will we be truly at home.  And since we are longing for that eternity, we cannot make peace with our Earthly dwelling.

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.

– 1 Peter 2.11

We must continually wage war against our sinful flesh.  We must continually fight the fight of being comfortable and lazy and make ourselves aware of the hurting and needy around us.  There are some people in your church who are not blood, who do not belong, and who are hurting and broken.  Skip lunch on Sunday with your cousins and buddies and go love on that hurting and lonely couple.  Tell your crib mate that you will talk to them later and go welcome that visitor and get to know someone new.  But beware the temptation of shallow and transient relationships, too.  We are to function as the body, to hold one another accountable, to be involved in each other’s lives, carrying one another’s burdens and forming the temple for the Holy Spirit.  Let’s break out of our comfort zones, let’s remember that our true home is eternity with Christ, and let’s build the temple of the Holy Spirit by unifying, welcoming, embracing the believers that God puts into our paths.  Let’s break the mold.

Deal Breakers

Dating.  The wonderful, terrible, emotional, draining, exhilarating ritual in which we here in the United States engage to find our spouse.  Everyone has their own approach to dating, I’m sure, but one thing of which everyone is aware and which everyone sets is our personal standard.  The essentials.  The non-negotiables.  Those things on which we will not waiver when considering another human being as our life-long partner.  The “deal breakers”.  Each person’s list is unique, and I wholeheartedly support the practice of examining one’s self and knowing those things which you value and cherish and hope for in your marital relationship.

I had a wonderful conversation last week with a girlfriend about such things.  As we were talking about the Biblical outlines for marriage, roles for men and women and expectations that we have as women in how we want to be treated, I began to reflect on some of the things on our lists and things the regularly get put on lists.  There are character issues which are important but then there also was a category of things that I would label “The Past”.  There are a multitude of things that one might put on his list of deal breakers that were simply past experiences.  Family of origin, having been arrested, divorce, having children, education…this list is inexhaustible.  But as I thought about those things, those things that are not exemplary of one’s character, I began to grow uneasy with our quickness to condemn and our lack of humility.  Internally, for those standards which I hold.  And externally, for the ways others would consider me unworthy of relationship without knowing my heart.

Here’s the good news.  There are no deal breakers with God.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3.16).  Jesus said that “it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick” (Matt 9.12), and that He “came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19.10).  If you would come then God would have you.  All who believe, all who repent, all who turn to God are saved and He welcomes.  Period.  No matter what you have done, no matter what was done to you, and no matter from where you have come.  One of the most beautiful pictures in all of Scripture to me is of the woman washing Jesus’ feet with her hair:

“Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.  Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.’  And Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’  And he replied, ‘Say it, Teacher.’  ‘A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both.  So which of them will love him more?’  Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’  And He said to him, ‘You have judged correctly.’  Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet.  You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.  For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.‘  Then He said to her, ‘Your sins have been forgiven.'”

– Luke 7.36-48

Our inability to forgive, our pride, our lack of compassion is directly correlated to our lack of understanding of that for which we have been forgiven.  We have all broken the heart of the Almighty God.  We have all spat in his face.  Our sins – from the least to the greatest – are what put Him on the cross.  He died because of your sin.  My sin.  That lie.  That indiscretion.  That outburst of anger.  Do you realize the weight of your sin?  Adam and Eve ate a piece of fruit.  One. Little. Sin.  And because of that they were kicked out of the Garden, they incurred a curse, Eve was granted pain in childbirth and ordered under Adam’s headship and Adam was doomed to struggle to provide for his family for the entirety of his life.  And they were cursed with death.  Death!  For eating a piece of fruit.  Did you ever eat that cookie when your mom said don’t eat that cookie?  You deserve to die for that.  Why?  Because God is perfect.  And He does not tolerate sin.  Any sin.  And the weight of a sin is proportionate to the one against whom the sin is committed.

But because of the infinite value of Jesus as God, His death was enough to satiate the wrath of God for your sin, for my sin, no matter how grievous it might be.  Let’s take a look at those who are documented in the “Hall of Faith” – those people who are esteemed by God for their faith:

Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Sarah.  Drunkard, moon worshiper and abandoner of wife, one who chose one child over the other, mocker of God.

Or how about the lineage of Jesus Himself:

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Boaz by Rahab, David, Solomon by Bathsheba, and a whole line of ungoldly kings.  Abandoner of wife, theif, harlot, murderer, lover of the world (just to name a few).

The patriarchs of the faith committed the most heinous of crimes and they were chosen, forgiven, accepted, loved and ultimately sanctified.  And it was the realization of the depth of the forgiveness they were granted that gave depth of love for God and for others.  If you have lived a perfect life then by all means, cast the first stone (John 8.7).  Set deal breakers based on the past for your relationships.  But if you have been forgiven, then forgive and accept in the same measure by which you have been forgiven.  Because, as Jesus said, “He who is forgiven little loveth little”.  But he who has been forgiven much loveth much!  “Beloved, let us love one another.  For love is of God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.  He that loveth not, knoweth not God for God is love” (1 John 4.7-8).