By Katie Pearson
“And in his teaching he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’ And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. …And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’” – Mark 12:38–44
One of humanity’s greatest needs is to belong. This is true for Christians as well. If we are not firmly rooted in our primary calling and identity in Christ, we may seek our security in the approval of others. We may slip into caring more about how we appear to others rather than how we stand before God. We may hinder our life and ministry by building on comparison, not compassion.
In today’s passage, the scribes sought approval, belonging, and status through outward-facing means. They were not new to religion; they weren’t grappling with issues that take time and experience to understand. Their issue was outright pride. Tim Keller says, “The Gospel is neither religion nor irreligion; it is something else altogether. Religion makes law and moral obedience a means of salvation, while irreligion makes the individual a law to self. The Gospel is that Jesus pays the penalty of disobedience so we can be saved by grace.” The scribes were practicing religion out of pride and self-focus. The widow understood the Gospel and acted out of love and devotion to God.
What is our primary calling and identity in Christ? It’s everything represented by the vertical bar of the cross—all that we receive from heaven through Christ’s sacrifice that grounds us and allows us to become our true selves. And it dismisses the religious self that relies on self-salvation practices and postures before others.
It includes being chosen, grafted into the family of God, forgiven, beloved, redeemed, righteous, and all else imputed to all believers. We don’t have to strive to maintain this status or prove ourselves before others. When we show greater concern for our brothers and sisters, we discover relationships built on love. We experience grace and can extend it freely to others.
What are you relying on for your image? Security? Self-preservation? How can you posture your heart to trust God more than the things of this world?
What defines you? If it’s a possession, position, or even a spiritual practice, then your identity isn’t rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Confess your sin to the Lord and thank him for your identity in the person of Jesus Christ.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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