“Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with such scum?’ When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.'”
– Matthew 9:10-12 (NLT)
June 24, 2017 – Changi General Hospital Staff Lounge served as our huddle for Our Matthew Life Group. Matthew Life Group is a kind of life group in HOPE Church Singapore which relates to the bible when Matthew knew that Jesus and His disciples were coming to have dinner with Him, he invited the other tax collectors and other sinners.
Matthew Life Group intends to invite the the people in the network of the people inside the life group. But we did it “intentionally” this time. Instead of inviting them over, we decided to reach out to those people who may be complete strangers to some of us in the group and share the love of God to them in simple, thoughtful ways – through good foods, laughter and prayer.
We are move with what the bible says:
“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” – Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)
A “linkbridge” is built to serve as link and connection between two structures. The concept of linkbridges started when people see the importance of shortening the time in transferring from one place to another.
Matthew may have not decided to invite other tax collectors and sinners, for the Pharisees may see as inviting Jesus to eat together with them inappropriate. But what moved Matthew to invite other tax collectors and even sinners into his house for dinner?
In Matthew 9:9 (NIV):
“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him.”
The bible clearly portrays a scene where Matthew, without any hesitations, doubts, nor second thought “got up and followed Him” – it takes a willing heart to obey Jesus over seeing yourself as a “ready” person.
Matthew saw great, immeasurable and indescribable measures in Jesus! With this comes his love towards others who were like him before he had an encounter with Jesus. He was changed by Jesus. You may have come to know Jesus but it must not stop from just having the relationship with him, on your own.
As what is written in Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV), “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Aside from obedience, what are the other things that God is trying to develop in us?
1. Genuine love for others
Aside from loving God, He also wants us to genuinely love others – our neighbors, as much as we love ourselves.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” – Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)
One way to show this to bring them closer to Jesus and to tell them about the gift of salvation.
2. Joy in serving
In inviting other people in our own home, it takes a joyful, servant heart to really entertain them and attend to their needs. And even having the eagerness to invite people as much as Matthew have done. He opened His house not only for a casual social gathering but for the purpose of “Making Jesus Known” to the people who are yet to receive Him as their own personal Lord and Savior.
Be joyful in sowing the seeds! Paul emphasized to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” In our little ways and joyful effort, God uses it to magnify himself by empowering the seed of faith that has been planted in you.
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” – Romans 12:14 (NIV)
Believers of Christ faces persecution. Matthew on his time may have faced similar experience as a consequence of his belief towards Jesus. But inspite of this he managed to live in peace by walking the path less taken, living in the truth and being in a new life in Jesus.
Instead of fearing persecution, Matthew peacefully invited other tax collectors and sinners
Patience is a by product of trials. In our works for the Lord, sometimes we are losing “patience” whenever it seems that everything is not falling on its place. But the Lord said, “Take courage!”.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” – James 1:2-3 (NIV)
The Biblical definition of perseverance came from the Greek word “hypomone” which means “waiting on“. This preseverance gives us the patience to joyfully wait for the things that are yet to come as we continue to strive patiently for the kingdom of God.
The bibles says:
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” – Hebrew 13:2 (NIV)
Matthew at that moment exemplifies kindness not only by inviting others for a dinner but to usher and set himself as the ‘linkbridge’ towards the people to know Jesus.
Taking bigger steps beyond our comfort zone and standing between the gap for the Kingdom of Jesus is one of the best way of ahowing kindness – giving more than what the physical body needs, but goes deeper into the spiritual needs of others.
6. Goodness (Gaining a Constructive Attitude)
‘“I have the right to do anything,” you say but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” but not everything is constructive’ – 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV)
As followers and believers of Christ, our footprints on Earth surely will never be kept. We are temporary. But what to do with a time-bounded life?
We have the right to do ‘anything’ that is possible with our strength, resources and time. Paul on his epistle to the people of Corinth, encouraged everyone to do good things, not just things that can be considered good but ‘constructive’.
Do things that will encourage others, that they follow and do the same, or even greater things. Matthew started the act of setting as a good, constructive example – that a sinner can be forgiven by the grace of Jesus and become a disciple.
As we do more for the kingdom of God, out of our obedience, we become more rooted – at first we may have a faith that is ‘as small as a mustard seed’.
In Matthew 17:20 Jesus told His disciples about the faith as small as the mustard seed saying, ‘”… Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”’
What more if our roots dig deeper into God? Expect your faith to do more, not for your to gain the glory of doing more. But it is for the Glory of God.
My mentor always reminds me that “The spirit is caught not taught”. It is always passed on to someone. A gentle spirit shows love, overpowering the weakness. It speaks the truth in Jesus, encourages, understands, and inspires.
“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near” – Philippians 4:5 (NIV)
My dear brothers and sisters, indeed, the Lord is near! He is in you and in everything that you do. Continue to persevere with the works that yiu have started that you may reap what you have sown, overflowing and exceeding in abundance.
Self-control applies in every aspect of our lives. From our speech, our conduct, our ideas, and our works.
a. Facing Temptations
Everyone, everyday faces tempations of cetai degree. Through God’s empowerment He will develop self-control in us that will enable us to endure it.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
b. Spiritual Discipline
Athletes are among the most discipline group of people. From the food they eat, sleeping time, stress management and training – disciplined. They follow a structured formula to win the game.
Some attributes the Christian journey as a ‘race to finish’ rather than ‘getting a crown that will last forever’ – Eternal Life with God in heaven.
“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” – 1 Corinthians 9:25
Self control? It encompasses our daily living. It avoids division but promotes union among the body of Jesus. It creates a true, free spirit that relies on God.
In being the ‘linkbridge’, the first step is for you to have a sincere and fairhful relationship with Jesus, and to accept Him as you personal Lord and Saviour. It does not require you to be righteous. Because we became the righteous people by Jesus. Come to Jesus with a willing heart that sees no fault nor flaws but love. He was not sent by the Father into the world but to save the world through Him – He is our Salvation.