Lenten Study Day 6

The Company You Keep

Dinner with Sinners

When I was young, my mother always told me, “You’re know by the company you keep!” She was warning me that my reputation could be ruined, if not destroyed, based entirely on the people with whom I chose to associate. In other words, my reputation would be defined by my friends’ reputations. While this may not seem fair, it still happens today. How many times has a young man been killed because he was friends with gang members even though he never belonged to a gang? It was just assumed he was a member of a gang because of the company he kept.

Jesus didn’t care what people said or thought about Him based on the company He kept. He didn’t simply ruin His reputation, He completely destroyed it! It was more important to Jesus to do the right thing than it was to spend time worrying what people thought about Him.

One way Jesus threw His good reputation out the window was by associating with “sinners and tax collectors.” Jesus knew the best way to help these men, these outsiders feel better about themselves was to spend time with them.

Jesus liked to eat meals with men living on the fringe of society. Think about it. Sharing a meal with a person is a very intimate experience. We don’t eat with just anyone. This was especially true in Jesus’ day. Eating meals with these men made a very strong statement to them and to other people. It showed others that Jesus thought of these men as friends. This raised the status of the men in the eyes of some people. It lowered the status of Jesus in the eyes of other people. Jesus didn’t care one way or the other. He only cared about people that were hurting. Other people could take their opinions and jump in the lake!

Today, we worry too much what other people are going to think. This is especially true of kids. If kids associate with the wrong people, people that are considered different, they might be teased and made to feel uncomfortable. This type of intimidation is hard to resist when you are a kid.

Today’s story offers your family the perfect opportunity talk about spending time with people that others avoid. It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s not possible. However, we want to show others God’s love. We want to have respect for all people. Associating with outsiders is one way to do this.

Discussion Questions

1. Who are some of the “sinners” in your life, the people on the outside?

2. How do you treat them?

3. Do others ever make fun of you when you are nice to the “wrong” people?

4. Have you ever been the person on the outside?

5. How did it make you feel?

6. What can you do to make certain everyone feels included?

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