23 The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly. (KJV)
23 The poor plead for mercy, but the rich answer harshly. (NIV)
This could easily be about the differences between the wealthy and those in poverty.
This could easily become an indictment against many parts of the Church around the world.
Instead, this is based more on the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14), and it is a call to follow the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:35-40).
When one has believed they have become saved by grace through faith in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ through the cross, it can become easy to forget those humble beginnings: you were a sinner in need of a Savior.
The danger comes when we change everything in our lives to cut off any attachments to our sinful lives before Christ. It is not that we have removed any danger of temptation and sin, rather that we surround ourselves with Christians. Sometimes this is to the point that we do not know any non-Christians or Christians from other churches/denominations. We surround ourselves only with the riches of God’s mercy, grace, and love.
This is dangerous, because we can forget how to act around non-Christians. We see the sinful behavior, the effects of sin, and dangerous lifestyles and choices. We see the ways of living and interacting with others that remind us of our own sins or what the Bible says about certain sins.
And we judge them and thank God we are no longer like them. Which is good … to a point …
… but we forget to love them.
What is easy to forget is that non-Christians, and even some who were raised in the Church, are pleading, sometimes begging, for a demonstration of mercy. They have not partaken of the riches of God’s mercy, grace, and love.
They may be painfully aware of how their lives are not perfect. They may understand what they are doing is wrong.
They do not need more reminders.
They need mercy, grace, and love.
And all we seem to show them is distaste and superiority. We seem to show them they do not deserve what we have been given.
May we remember that we are sinners saved by grace. We are the saints of God having been washed in His blood.
May we remember that God has entrusted their salvation to us.
May we remember to show the same mercy, grace, and love God has shown to us and not hold onto these riches to the detriment of those around us.
Merciful God rich in grace and love, remind us that we need You every day. Help our hearts to long for You. Remind us to share Your love and mercy every day. Help us to not answer harshly to the lost as You have not answered harshly to us.