Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Matthew 9:10-13 NKJV
When the Pharisees saw what the dinner at Matthew’s house looked like, they immediately judged the quality of the people present. The Pharisees had spiritually written off these “tax collectors and sinners.” The Pharisees focused on the people that Jesus was eating with, but Jesus was focused on how He could impact those around Him.
For us, our relationships can drain us, leave us angry, or cause us stress. This mindset can be a trap. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of our relationships, we should remember that our relationships are ministry opportunities. We can keep ourselves in check by asking ourselves, “Have I been my best spiritual self? Have I demonstrated enough Jesus for them to want Him?”
There are more than seven billion people on this earth, and God has specifically chosen everyone that is in our lives, even those that we wish weren’t in it. It’s easy to think that life would be great if we could trade in those around us for new and improved people. However, this is the wrong mindset. We shouldn’t think of our relationships as one-for-one exchanges.
For some of our relationships, we’re never going to get anything back. That person will never say “thank you,” they will never take us out to dinner, and they will never invite us on vacation. Despite all of this, God put them in our lives and has given us gifts so that they can see Jesus through us.
When we look at our relationships as ministry, they won’t stress us out, and we won’t carry unrealistic expectations.
Our placement and purpose are defined by our connections and the people around us. We can find our purpose, placement, and ministry by discerning God’s intentional connections in our lives. We are not connected to anyone by accident. Our purpose is to transfer the Jesus in us to those around us.
Our connections define our placements and priorities. Just like Jesus, when we find ourselves placed among tax collectors and sinners, our priority ought to be to heal those who are sick and bring about mercy.