Who Do You Spend Time with?
Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:13-17)
Who do you spend time with? We have a tendency to believe that our choices regarding friends and leisure time are our own. Yet we also know that as Lord of our lives, Jesus, is ultimately in charge. We want to please Him in every way. So, who would Jesus hang around? For many believers, it is a difficult and uncomfortable answer to hear.
Jesus intentionally went to the homes of those whom society rejected. The tax collectors He ate with in this story were hated collaborators with the Roman conquerors. No religious Jew would have anything to do with them. In addition to tax collectors, there were “sinners,” whose work and position kept them outside the bounds of decent Jewish society. Jesus embraced them all.
Jesus spent time with these people not in a way that endorsed sinful lifestyles, but rather to demonstrate His love and desire to bring healing and freedom. Responding to the criticism of the religious leaders of the day, Jesus made it clear that He had come to take care of the hurting, not those who didn’t think they had any needs.
Let’s ask the question again: Who do you spend time with? Jesus certainly had times when He just enjoyed fellowship with His closest friends. But He turned from the horizontal aspect of companionship to an intentionally vertical relationship, using His time with others to bring kingdom healing and teaching kingdom principles. The Lord calls us to do the same.
Listen: Spend a few quiet moments seeking God. Be attentive to whatever He may speak to your heart.
Reflect: How is the Spirit leading you to respond to what you have heard from God?
Confess and Repent: If there is something the Spirit convicts you of, take time to prayerfully confess it. Resolve to turn from it if it is sin, or step toward whatever He is leading you into that you have either neglected or not seen before.
Ask: Lord, You are so amazing! You never sought to protect Your own reputation. You were never concerned about what others thought of You. You gave Yourself for those who desperately needed You. Help me Lord to be like You. Show me who You want me to spend time with. Give me Your love and compassion for those who might be different than me, but whom You greatly love. Send me into the world to be salt and light in dark places.
- Who do you spend your time with? Do you go out of your way to avoid those who are unbelievers? Are you uncomfortable in situations where you may be the only Christian? Ask God to point you to the people He desires to send Jesus to through you. Perhaps there are people at work or school, or perhaps someone at the grocery store, or a delivery person. Ask God for His eyes to see lost people as He sees them. Begin to pray for your neighbors, co-workers, family, and other acquaintances who are apart from God. You will find that as you pray for them, your heart will be drawn into a deep concern and love for their eternity.
- Consider prayer walking your neighborhood. Pray the BLESS prayer: B—(Body) pray for their physical bodies and well-being. L—(Labor) pray for their work or school lives; E—(Emotional) pray for their emotional well-being and thought lives; S—(Social) pray for their social needs and relationships . . . marriages,
friendships, etc.; S—(Spiritual) pray for their spiritual needs, that they will know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Or if they do, that they will experience Him in fresh, new ways.
- Think about the possibilities God has placed before you to demonstrate Jesus to those you come into contact with on a daily basis. Make a list of names and be intentional about praying for them and showing them kindness.
Taken from Vertical with Jesus by David and Kim Butts. © 2022 PrayerShop Publishing.