Crossroads: You’re Not Perfect

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Luke 18:9-14

Your Story

Talk about a time when you were a kid and you knew you had done something wrong. How did you feel? Did you ask for forgiveness? How did you feel after that?

My Story and the Bible Story

As a first grader, I was a pretty big talker. I loved to talk to everyone about everything. And one day we had a fire drill at school. You were not supposed to talk during the fire drill, but I did. I talked to the person next to me in line about something—I don’t remember what it was, and it probably wasn’t very important. But my teacher saw me. And I didn’t know it, but my teacher called my mother. When I got home from school, my mom asked me if I had talked during the fire drill and I said “no.” Now, my mom knew that I had just lied to her, and I got in trouble, both for talking when I wasn’t supposed to and for lying. And soon I told my mom that I was sorry for lying to her. I knew that I had done something wrong, and that I didn’t always make the right decision.

It’s easy to forget that we make mistakes, that we sometimes make the wrong choice, especially when we see someone who has done something that we think is worse. We aren’t the only ones who do that. Read Luke 18:9-14. From the NIV: 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.’

If we are honest with ourselves, most of the time we are like the Pharisee. We say things like “well I may have done this, but at least I didn’t do that.” We judge others for the wrong that they have done. You may think “I lied but at least I’m not like the bully at school,” or “I was mean to someone but at least I’m not like the kid who stole someone’s iPod.” But here’s the thing: God sees all of our sin the same way. Whether you lied, stole, hurt, or even killed someone, God sees all the sin the same. That means that we really are no better than the bully because we’ve done wrong things too. Instead, Jesus says that we should be more like the tax collector, who didn’t look at others and think he was better or worse than them. Instead, he focused on asking for God’s forgiveness for his own sins. God is ready and waiting to forgive us. God is eager to forgive. But forgiveness requires something of us too. It requires that we recognize that we did something wrong. The Pharisee didn’t see that he had done anything wrong. He even thanked God that he wasn’t like those other people, as if he wasn’t a sinner just like them. But the tax collector knew that he had made mistakes and that he needed God’s forgiveness. We all do things that are wrong sometimes. And we all need God’s forgiveness. God is glad when we don’t compare ourselves to others but recognize that we do wrong too. And when we ask, God is quick to forgive.

Discussion

• Ask your kids about times when they have done something wrong. How did they feel? Did they ask for forgiveness? How did they feel after that?
• Give some examples of things that people do wrong. Talk about how we all make the wrong choice sometimes, and that God’s love is so great that God is able to forgive anything, even things that other people might not be able to forgive.
• Remind your children that Jesus never did anything wrong, but that God took on all of our wrongs so that we could always be forgiven.

Prayer

Ask God for help in not judging others. Ask for help in recognizing the things you have done wrong. Ask God’s forgiveness for specific things. Thank God for loving us no matter what.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

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