September 19, 2021
TALK 2: Righteousness vs. Repentance
WELCOME back to our inspiring study of Matthew. Today, I want to preach the simple and comforting message, “God’s mercy is bigger than all your mistakes.”
Today, we continue our Feast talk series, The Clash, with Talk 2: Righteousness vs. Repentance. I’ve met a lot persons who think that just because they made wrong choices, God won’t bless them anymore.
But the truth is that we’ve all made mistakes. Perhaps you gave yourself to addictions. Or you were a rebellious child and made your parents unhappy. Or you married the wrong person. Or you didn’t raise your kids well. Or you made poor financial decisions. I want to give you hope today. Your future is brighter than your past.
How do I know? Because God’s mercy is bigger than all your mistakes.
Have You Missed Your Chance?
I’ve met so many who think they’ve “blown” it. Persons like Jordan and Cindy. While still single, Cindy got pregnant at 18 years old. They rushed into marriage and both had to drop out of college. Today, every day is a struggle to survive. When I talked to them, I realized that the lack of money was not just their problem. Jordan and Cindy lacked of hope.
Guilt was eating them up. At the back of their mind, they felt they deserved their poverty as punishment for their sins. They told me, “Brother Bo, we blew it. We missed our chance at a happy life.”
Meet the God of Second Chances
I told them, “You’re wrong. Your mistake can never be bigger than His mercy.”
I then talked about a few not-so-perfect persons in the Bible.
About Jacob—how he lied, deceived, and swindled. Yet God named an entire nation after him. About David—how he became an adulterer and a murderer.
Yet God still made him the greatest king of Israel. About Elijah—how he ended up depressed and a coward before Queen Jezebel. Yet he was there with Jesus and Moses at the miracle of the Transfiguration. About Peter—how hot headed, temperamental, and out-of-control guy he was. Yet God made him the head of the Church.
About Paul—how he was a murderer of saints. Yet God made him one of the greatest apostles of the Bible.
I told Cindy and Jordan, “If you read the Bible, the biggest stars were the biggest sinners…”
This reminds me of something that happened some years ago.
My Experience as a Father
One day, when my son was 5 years old, he said, “I want to cook pancakes!” While he was in the kitchen, it sounded like the bombing of Pearl Harbor. When I followed him, I saw the chaos mentioned in the book of Genesis. Like a tsunami hit our kitchen. There were broken eggshells everywhere, flour on the floor, spilled milk on the table. He made so many mistakes.
But then again, I expected him to make mistakes. Not just in cooking.
I’m a father of two growing boys. And my sons have failed hundreds of times. But that’s okay. I still love them with all their mistakes. They’re still the darlings of my life. Because I know their mistakes are all part of their growth. Without those mistakes, their growth won’t be complete.
God Expects You To Make Mistakes Too
May I share my controversial belief? I believe that God expects us to make mistakes too. Do you think God is surprised that we fall? God has made room for our mistakes.
The Bible says that all things work for good to those who love Him.
Would you believe:
God Didn’t Give Up On Me
I’ve sinned so much in my life. Too many to count.
So, I know I didn’t fulfil God’s “Plan A”. I was so sinful and selfish and stubborn, I bet I didn’t fulfil His “Plan B” and “Plan C” and “Plan D” and “Plan E”…
And when I didn’t fulfil God’s “Plan Z”, do you know what God did? He invented a whole new alphabet for me.
Here’s my belief: Nothing we do can ever stop Him from loving us.
Today, I’m swimming in an ocean of blessings. I don’t deserve any of them. I’m married to Marowe (right during the visit of Pope Francis in Manila) this wonderful woman for 23 years now—and we have an incredible marriage. I’ve got two fabulous boys—Bene and Francis. I’ve got the best family and friends one can ever wish for.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a ton of problems. But that’s a part of this thing called Life.
The ministries we started continue to flourish. My little businesses continue to grow. And at this age, would you believe, I’m still good-looking. Ha-ha. (If you disagree, I’ll pray for you less.)
Can you believe my “luck”?
But it’s not luck. It’s mercy.
Have you made mistakes? Don’t be too hard on yourself.
God’s mercy is bigger than your mistakes.
A Common Trap
Before we read our key reading, let’s backtrack a bit.
Jesus just left a huge mess in the Temple’s market stalls. As we mentioned last week, this was all prophetic theatre. Jesus was going against the corruption of these religious leaders who owned these stalls.
So, these indignant leaders walk up to Jesus to confront Him:
I remember that once upon a time, I gave a motivational talk to a group of Supreme Court justices. It was a lifetime experience. It was something that I will always treasure for good and bad reasons.
I say bad because when I met one of the judges, she took one good look at me from top to bottom and, you know what, she said, “You’re our speaker? You look like you should be the one listening to us, and not the other way around.”
Actually, it was meant to be a joke but I couldn’t help feeling I was being judged.
This is a very common trap that I believe we fall into. All of us fall into this trap. That just because when we are in a higher position or in a better position, sometimes, there is a tendency for us to look down on others with disdain.
There is a real danger whenever you do this. I’ll give you two reasons:
- We become detached. We become distant. Nobody is able to talk to us like we are all up there in our own kingdom being king or queen executing, beheading anyone who dares to correct us or to confront us.
- We become deaf. You’re unable to hear God speak to you. You know, the Holy Spirit’s voiceis drowned out by your pride or ego.
So, if you want to hear God, you need
to humble yourself. Because it takes humility to listen. Humility enables us to hear.
Say that with me: Listen with humility.
Anyway, here is how Jesus responded to the religious leaders:
And here’s what happened… The elders and the religious leaders talked it over among themselves and they said…
This is one of the situations
when a lot of persons say, “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
Just like those times when a woman asks you, “Do I look fat to you?”
Okay. Quick tip for all the men: When your girlfriend or when your wife asks you the question, “Do I look fat to you?” Take note, there’s no right answer to the question ever. This is a death trap. We’ve had so many casualties because of this question. Because if you say no, she won’t believe you. And if you say yes, she will bury you alive.
So, here’s my advice: The next time your girl asks you, “Do I look fat to you?”
Here’s what you do… Look her straight in the eye and then say this very slowly: “I love you just the way you are.”
Listen, the reason your woman is ever asking in the first place is she just wants to feel assured that you still find her attractive. So, don’t just tell her, show her. Make her feel loved just the way she is.
Let’s move on… Jesus is not yet done replying and He tells them a very beautiful parable of the two boys in verses 28-31:
The Tale of Two Bad Boys
This is not the story of one good son and one bad son. This is the tale of two bad boys. The difference is that the first son appears to be good while the second son appears to be bad.
But Jesus wants us not be fooled by appearances — but to go deeper. Matthew says in verses 31-32:
Through the story, Jesus juxtaposes two groups of people: The first group are the religious elite, the priests, the theologians, and Bible teachers. These are pious persons on the outside. But they’re selfish, arrogant, hateful, and corrupt on the inside.
The second group consists of the “tax collectors and prostitutes”—
the most despised sinners of ancient Israel. They were irreligious. They couldn’t even enter the synagogue. And yet Jesus throws a bombshell by declaring that these sinners were the core group of His new upside-down Kingdom.
What a shocking statement. No wonder Jesus was hanging out with Tax Collectors–Zacchaeus and Matthew. And His questionable female friends…
The Perfectly Bad Woman
Mary Magdalene had 7 demons (see Luke 8:2), and in the Bible, 7 was a symbol of perfection. That meant she was perfectly bad.
Yet Jesus made her his friend. Soon, she became a staunch follower of Jesus and a strong pillar of the early Church.
Today, you may feel like you’re Mary Magdalene. Perhaps you’re trapped by your own demons. By your addictions. You’ve tried everything to kick the habit, but nothing has changed. You feel imprisoned.
But I believe that the Jesus who drove out the demons from Mary Magdalene will also drive out all that’s holding you back from your freedom.
The Samaritan Woman– 5 failed relationships and was now with a 6th partner (See John 4). Which is worse, having 7 demons or 6 husbands?
Perhaps like the divorcee, you’ve suffered many failed relationships. Perhaps you cheated on your partner. Perhaps you have a broken marriage. Perhaps you yourself come from a broken family. You may think, “I’ve blown it. I’ve missed the boat of happiness.”
That’s not true. Don’t give up on yourself– because God has not given up on you. He wants to bless you with great relationships and great people.
And there’s Peter—so hot headed, temperamental, and out-of-control guy. Yet God made him the head of the Church.
Friend, here’s my message: Never define yourself by your mistakes; Define yourself by God’s mercy.
Chew on this truth:
Declare the Mercy of God Over Your Life
God hasn’t given up on your destiny. So don’t give up on yours!
Let me say it again: God’s mercy is bigger than all your mistakes.
I wrote a special declaration for you to say below. Say it with all your heart.
Confess your faith:
Father, here we are in the midst of Your Presence. Here we are in our brokenness… We’re praying, Lord, that you make us whole again.
Thank You for Your Love that never ceases. Thank You for Your Mercy that never ends.
We are here in Your Presence and we are just allowing You Lord to speak to us as we worship You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.