This week's "thought," which comes to you from F. Congreve, has to do with a commonly needed "attitude adjustment" in the believers heart and mind. For as believers in Jesus we can sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking (because of the sinful things we did in our past) that we should not be joyful. That joy would be wrong. That being joyful would somehow imply we didn't take our past sins seriously enough. But often just the opposite it true. The sense that we must remain sullen comes not from the fact that we haven't taken our past sin seriously enough, but that we haven't taken divine forgiveness seriously enough! For if we are forgiven - truly forgiven by God - how can we not experience joy, even despite the sinful things we may have done.
Hopefully today's thought will reinforce that truth. If God has forgiven your sins there are only two reasonable responses: 1.) Tears of joy and gratitude (Luke 7:38) and 2.) smiles of joy and gratitude. But never should the knowledge of our gracious forgiveness lead to a conscious attempt on our part to repress the sense of joy that should follow! For as Paul says, "Blessed is the person whose sins are forgiven; whose transgressions are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him" (Rom. 4:7-8). Enjoy.
"The feast which Levi gave to our Lord Jesus on the occasion of his conversion (Luke 5:27-35) is such a cheerful metaphor of the Christian life. It is a festival of joy and gratitude for a conversion. We are sinners forgiven - abundant reason for perpetual praise. A feast represents a forgiven sinner's whole course; he is embraced, welcomed home, and has brought more joy to heaven than there was before. His sorrow for sin is not a mortified, humiliated, angry disgust with himself. It is a humble, hopeful sorrow always 'turning into joy'. So, if his very sorrows become the material for his joy, his life may be represented by the feast Levi gave to the Lord, who had forgiven and called him.
"But I am unworthy of joy," says the forgiven sinner. "I am willing to work and suffer if need be. I don't deserve joy." That is the sentiment true of a pagan, but it contradicts the whole Creed of the Church - "I believe in...the forgiveness of sins." So, our life ought to be full of the joy of grateful love; the remembrance of sin means the remembrance of the love that called us out of our sins and forgave us our whole sin-debt.
And notice that Levi did not just make Jesus a feast, he made Jesus a great feast. It is not that we are to be cheerful for our own gratification. Our life is to be full of praise and thanksgiving, singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord - for the honor of Jesus. Levi made the great feast for Him. Our habitual joy is due God, and honors God, and our joy means not simply a reflection of the joy of God, but is the joy of God... If we are sinners forgiven, we ought to behave as forgiven, welcomed-home sinners. People crowned with wonderful love in Christ. We should cheer and encourage everyone around us, who often go about so heavily because we have reflected our gloom upon them instead of our grateful love, hope and confidence."
It's a thought worthy of prayerful consideration!
Living in the Grace of Jesus, Pastor Jeff