You Who Are Evil
by Keith Giles
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" - Jesus (Luke 11:13)
This verse fascinates me. In it, Jesus is standing before a group of people who are listening to him speak about the Kingdom of God. As he instructs them on the mechanics of prayer he makes an amazing, off the cuff remark about the assumption of evil in the hearts of those standing in front of him.
What I like about this passage is that Jesus not only teaches us about how God loves us like children and loves to give good gifts to us when we ask Him, but also that God is not surprised by our sin. He knows we are evil. It's not a surprise to Him, and it's not a barrier to His gift of the Holy Spirit.
The United States Marine Corps used to have a great recruiting slogan: "We're looking for a few good men." But God is not looking for a few good men because He already knows there aren't any.
Yet God still gives. He doesn't withold good things from people because of their evil. If He did, none of us would have anything.
"There is none who is righteous, no not one" (Romans 3:11)
Jesus even uses the continual goodness of God as a basis for our calling for radical compassion and love towards others. He says that, because God brings rain on the just as well as the unjust, we also should show love to those who "deserve it" and those who don't. (Of course, Jesus would point out that none of us "deserves it").
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."
Because God is good to everyone, even the unrighteous, this is your basis for doing good to everyone, even those "sinners", because God does it...and because you're one of "those sinners" too.
I also love how Jesus ends this passage; "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Jesus (Matthew 5:43-48)
We are called to an impossible standard of love that transcends the everday, ordinary version of what passes for love today. We are called to model the extravagant love of God to people who have not yet experienced this sort of "off the charts" love. Since we have experienced this kind of love, we are the one's expected to put it into practice and give it away to others.
"Freely you have received, freely give." - Jesus (Matthew 10:8)
Yesterday as I was driving home in traffic I reflected over some of the events of this year I and I realized what Jesus says here is true. We are evil. None of us is "Good".
More than once this year I have been confronted with the shocking truth of man's capacity for evil. I've received calls from friends whose marriages are falling apart due to infidelity. I've heard details of fellow pastors who have been caught in sexual sin. I've counseled people who are determined to hold on to their sin, even as they admit to me that they know they are hurting themselves or others with their behavior. I've watched in sorrow as people I love have willingly returned to patterns of bondage to sin in order to get a temporary high or traded away the riches of God's blessings to them for an empty illusion and emotional heartache.
I realize that any one of us is capable, in the right situation, of any sort of evil or destructive selfish behavior. None of us is immune. Not you. Not me. Not your Mom or your Dad or your Pastor or your best friend.
"For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God" (Romans 3:23)
There is, however, a diamond I've found buried in this dark, cold ground and it is this: God's Grace towards me is only "Amazing" in relation to the darkness and evil within my own heart.
So, if I believe that I am basically an OK person, then God's love and Grace towards me is "Kinda Cool". But if I realize that I am sinful, selfish and evil beyond description and that my capacity for destructive behavior is unlimited, then the concept of God's love and Grace towards someone like me becomes truly "Amazing" in comparison.
If I am not evil, then God's Grace isn't amazing, it's just nice.
But, I AM evil. You are too. And God's Grace is truly, gloriously, hilariously "Amazing".
"While we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
So now, my evil friends, as you consider what it means to give good gifts this Holiday season, I'd encourage you to give as God gives; to the poor, to the broken, to the lost and the forgotten, to the just and the unjust, and to those who do not deserve mercy.
HAVE YOU DOWNLOADED MY BOOKS YET?
If not, what are you waiting for? Both of my books are now available as free PDF downloads for the rest of the year!
More info at my main site here: http://www.keithgiles.com/
About my books:
"The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" - The Gospel is not for sale. Learn how to relate to human beings as a human being without all the memorized speeches and pretentious nonsense commonly associated with evangelism. Instead, learn how to be who you are in the place you already live, work and play. The Gospel is not just for "those sinners" anymore, it's for you and me too. (Note: We are just as sinful as anyone else).
"Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)"- A devotional book for the MySpace Generation. This collection of 40 articles (over 200 pages) is a perfect guide for learning how to follow Jesus in your every day life without pretending to be the holiest person in the room.
NON-CON REGISTRATION NOW ONLINE
Saturday, March 15th, 2008
"More of a conversation than a conference"
With Jackie Pullinger, David Ruis, Cindy Reithmeier, John Thomas, Keith Giles, Spencer Burke
*ONLY 75 SEATS REMAINING! DON'T MISS THIS ONE-OF-A-KIND GATHERING.
More info and online registration at:
THIS SUNDAY: SEND GAP CLOTHES BACK!
Dec.16th. The Gap Protest adds 3 major cities as hundreds of protestors will return their Gap, Inc. clothes (including Old Navy and Bannana Republic) to speak out against the retail giant's use of children as slaves to create their clothing.
Gap Protest Locations:Costa Mesa, San Francisco, Miami and New York
Find out more at:http://www.sendgapclothesback.com/