What is the difference between the world of the righteous and the world of sinners? In the world of the righteous, there is no word ‘sorry.’ But in the world of sinners we can frequently hear these words-‘I’m sorry,’ ‘It’s my fault.’
Which world do you want to live in-the world of the righteous or the world of sinners?
Here, the world of the righteous does not mean the place where the true righteous people live-that is the world possible only in heaven. There are so many people who regard themselves as the righteous in this world. So the world of the righteous I mentioned here is the world where those claiming to be righteous live. What about the world such people live in?
Long ago, there was a family whose members all claimed to be righteous. One day, the father bought an expensive ceramic ware, and treasured it. After several days, his son was playing in the room, and touched the ware on the table and it was broken into pieces. His grandmother who saw it nearby got mad with anger and said, “You urchin, did I not tell you to play outdoors? Look what happened after you ignored what I said and played in the room!” When she scolded her grandson and switched him with a cane, her daughter-in-law heard the noise and came rushing into the room. Then she said to her mother-in-law, “Why were you making a fuss over a little one? Would that happen if you took good care of him?” “Why were you shouting at me? You are not worthy to say that.” Finally they came to quarrel with each other. When her husband came home from work and heard that his treasured ware was broken and there was a quarrel because of it, he became angry and shouted, “Damn it! Get out of here, all of you!”
‘I am not to blame. It’s all your fault.’ This is the way of thinking in the world of the righteous. There are constant quarrels and troubles in that world, for all claim to be the righteous, not sinners.
But, how about a family whose members all claim to be sinners in the same situation? One day, the father bought an expensive porcelain, and his child broke it into pieces while he was playing in the room. His grandmother came running, “Oh, dear! Are you okay?” And she soothed her grandson, saying, “That happened after I neglected looking after you. It is my fault. I should have told you to be careful beforehand.” Her daughter-in-law heard the smash of the porcelain and came into the room, and she said to her mother-in-law, “Sorry, mother. Yesterday I found the porcelain slanting a little, and I thought to put it right later. But I forgot and it resulted in …. It is my fault.” Her husband, watching it beside them, said, “I made my family trouble over this matter. It was my fault. It would not have happened if I had not bought it. It is I that am to blame.” Thus, though the porcelain was broken, this family became more united because of it.
What about you? Which world do you want to live in-the world of the righteous or the world of sinners?
Jesus said that He came not to call the righteous, but sinners.
“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matt. 9:13
In the world of the righteous, people say: “I am not to blame. This happened because of your fault.” But in the world of sinners, they say: “This might not have happened if I had cared a little more. It is all my fault. I’m so sorry. Forgive me.”
‘I am not wrong. The fault lies only with you.’ This causes a trouble in the church and discord between its members. When we realize that we are sinners and think-‘I am to blame for all; it happened because of me,’ then our faith becomes made complete and we can do the will of God. When we live a life of sinners, we can save many souls by the will of God who came to call sinners.
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”Matt. 3:1-2
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”Matt. 4:17
It is sinners who need to repent. If we eagerly hope for heaven, we should know that we are sinners. And not only the original sin which we committed in heaven but also all the sins we committed in this world by pretending to be righteous, we must repent. God has told us to repent because the kingdom of heaven is near. In the new year, let’s repent by dismissing it from our thought that we are the righteous.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 18:9-14
We know that we ought to humble ourselves; but we may not know how to humble. The first step to humble ourselves is acknowledging we are sinners by saying-“I am sorry,” “All is my fault.” Through the case of a tax collector and a Pharisee, Jesus explained well how to humble ourselves.
The following is what happened in a country school long ago. One day a teacher bought wallpaper for the wall of the schoolroom because it became old; and he told his student to paste the wallpaper and went out. But the student had never seen the wallpaper before, and he couldn’t distinguish the right from the wrong side of it.
After a while, his teacher came back and he stiffened when he saw the wallpaper, because the student pasted on the surface of all the sheets of the wallpaper. In a moment, the teacher hardened his face and he looked upset over it. Then the student noticed that he made a great mistake and began to cry.
And then the teacher soothed the student, saying, “Don’t cry. It is my fault. It is the first error that I didn’t tell you how to paste. And the second one is that I didn’t work together with you. And I didn’t check if it was the first time for you to do that-this is the third error.”
The student was deeply impressed by his teacher’s saying; for in spite of his error, the teacher took the fault upon himself, holding himself responsible for not teaching him how to do the work more in detail so that he might fully understand. It is said that he lived like his teacher to the end of his life.
Jesus ever said that the kingdom of heaven is within our minds. If we live in the world of sinners-not in the world of the righteous-and realize again we are sinners and properly use the words of sinners, we can give joy to all people and let them feel the kingdom of heaven in their hearts.
Though we preach diligently and are regular in our attendance of worship, we should not be proud by regarding ourselves as the righteous nor find faults with the church members by saying to them-‘You must mend your ways; do this way,’ ‘Why did you do that?’ These are not the words of heaven. ‘I am sorry,’ ‘It is my fault’-such words, used in the world of sinners, are of heaven. We should frequently use those heavenly words. The more we hear the heavenly words, the more we feel joy and become encouraged and confident. And then we become united.
It is the same in our family. If we realize we are sinners, consequently it exerts an influence on our children’s education at home. Generally children take after their parents; they are the copy of their parents. Children of a united family imitate their parents’ tender voice-‘Honey, good by! Have a nice day!’ But the children who have seen their parents quarrelling all the time are to mimic the way their parents quarrel. Children who have heard words of apology from their parents will have consideration for others when they grow up.
Christ has made us realize that we are sinners since He came into the world 2000 years ago, so that we may make our way in everything both at home and in the church. He said that He came not to call the righteous. Since God said that, we must not pretend to be righteous. Christ came to call sinners, not those thinking highly of themselves and pretending to be righteous. In the new year, let’s try to say the words-‘I am so sorry,’ ‘I am to blame,’ ‘I will try not to repeat the same mistake again by taking things seriously enough’-and let’s put them into practice. When we offer our sincere apology this way, then the kingdom of heaven will be in all.
If I pretend to be righteous, my neighbors will suffer the pain of hell, But if I humble myself as a sinner, they will feel the kingdom of heaven in their minds. Let’s put ourselves down at home and in the church, and then our neighbors, too, who gave a rebuke to us at first, will learn the heavenly words little by little.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5:13-16
The saints of the Early Church obeyed this word, and consequently the Holy Spirit rested upon them all the time. In the last days, too, the saints of the Church of God should put this word into practice, so that the power of the Holy Spirit may come upon us continuously.
Even though we do not defend ourselves, what we do right is to prove to be right and what we do wrong is to turn out to be wrong-everybody senses that. ‘I’m sorry. On reflection, I must admit I was wrong. It was hasty and inconsiderate of me to do such a thing. I will try not to repeat the same mistake again.’ When we exchange such words before blaming each other, we come to feel like giving consideration to each other rather than rebuking.
Trying to take others’ faults upon myself-this is the mind of Christ. From such a mind, Christ came even into this sinful world; in a sinner’s place, He took away all our sins in our behalf, and was crucified on the cross. Such a mind of Christ we should have in everyday life.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. …” “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:38-47
It is written that the saints of the Early Church were favored by all the people. If they had only preached the truth of the Bible, they would not have been praised by the Gentiles. What they were preaching was true, and moreover their deeds were good in the people’s eyes.
Then, would there be no conflict when they continued daily to meet together? Though a man and a woman are in love with each other, when they unite in marriage and continue to see every day, they come to find fault with each other and become indifferent and consequently injured. But the Early Church’s saints could continue to meet together every day with glad and sincere hearts. There was something to make them united with joy. Of course, there was the help of the Holy Spirit, but the greatest one among various factors was that all of them realized they were sinners.
The Early Church was in the world of sinners. As sinners, the saints laid the blame on themselves and apologized to each other, trying to mending their own ways. By doing that, they could be continually filled with joy. Acknowledging their own infirmities, they corrected mutual shortcomings and guided each other into the right path. That’s why they could be continually filled with joy and sincerity every day: They came to get praised by all and the gospel continued to spread and those who were being saved daily increased in number.
We are the people of heaven. So we should properly use the heavenly words-‘I am sorry,’ ‘It is my fault.’ Let’s be worthy of God’s children who are praised even by the world-“Whether what they are preaching is true or not, their deeds are good. As the people who believe in God, they are giving a good example to others.”
For this, we should make lots of concession and sometimes suffer a loss. But by losing, we can make others gain and give them joy. This is the will of Christ. Thinking deeply once more why Christ said He came not to call the righteous, but sinners, let’s try to live as sinners.
Now, the kingdom of heaven is near. Christ tells us to ‘repent’ all the more as we see the day approaching. Acknowledging our own mistakes and trying to correct them-this is the attitude of sinners who repent.
Preaching contains not only proclaiming the word of truth but also following the teachings of Christ. If all the church members live a worthy life of Christians, who will leave such beautiful nest? Living a life of sinners, not of the righteous-this will be a sweet fragrance to lead the whole world to Christ.
From now on, let’s try to be accustomed to the heavenly words.
“I’m sorry.” “It is my fault.”
The more we use these words, the more we will seek the lost people of heaven; and the kingdom of heaven will come more swiftly.