“Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.'”
My friend, Marlys, who heads up a Christian disabilities group, recently visited an internationally renowned prayer center. As she was sitting in the prayer room, interceding and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, a staff member from the prayer center motioned to her and asked her to step outside. “Ma’am,” he said, “we’re a little concerned about two blind members in your group. The two blind people went into the prayer room with their guide dogs. I don’t think that’s proper. I’m concerned that having a dog in the room would grieve the Holy Spirit. How do you think the Lord feels about this?”
Marlys could hardly believe her ears. It was all she could do to stifle her anger. What she said was, “I think God is saying, ‘Hallelujah! I’m glad they’re here!” Still, the man persisted. He thought someone should remove the dogs and let the blind individuals remain in the room to pray. After ten minutes of haggling, the staff member finally relented.
The whole affair reminded me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:23-24, “You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” Thank heavens, there is a higher law which incorporates prudence, compassion, and a more exalted perspective!
How often we believers lose our focus and put more emphasis on externals, rules, and practices, rather than on God’s passion for lost and hopeless people. Which means more to the Lord… religious decorum or eternal souls?
Dear Father, keep me from becoming distracted by minor issues and trivial infractions, so that I fail to walk in Your great yearning for men and women to turn back to You. As David prayed so long ago, “Renew a right spirit within me.”