Mistaken Identity

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 11 & 12

Psalm Reading: Psalm 8

New Testament Reading: Matthew 7

Mistaken identity. Incorrectly thinking you found or recognize someone. It makes for a funny sitcom, dramatic court scene or suspenseful spy thriller. But in real life – and specifically when dealing with eternal life – it’s not the best time to realize – you don’t really know who you are dealing with. There is a lot of that going on in Matthew 7:15-23. Now’s a good time to go click the Matthew 7 link above and give it a read if you haven’t yet. Don’t trust my words – I might not be who I say I am, but the words of God are always true and here in Matthew His Son, Jesus, speaks words that are trustworthy and accurate and when acted upon can even save your life/house from destruction in the storm (Matthew 7:24-27). Give it a read.

Its a great chapter with a lot of wisdom – too much for one devotion. Last year I happened to be writing about this chapter in January as well and I was drawn first to “Do not judge…” This week the picture that sticks in my brain is Jesus on THAT day (THE day of judgment) when all will be seen clearly and Jesus effectively sorts out all cases of mistaken identity. Jesus gives the example of those who call him, “Lord, Lord” – but are NOT allowed to enter the kingdom. He even says there will be MANY who call him Lord AND who prophesy (speak) in the name of Jesus, drive out demons and perform miracles – who will NOT be given access to the kingdom. These are not “name only Christians” who only come to church on Easter. These are the ones leading the service! It seems everyone would be quick to call them Christians. But what everyone thinks about these “Christians” won’t matter on judgment day. Jesus sees. Jesus knows. He isn’t fooled by a sheep costume.

How can we tell we aren’t being mistaken about their identity? Is that a sheep? Or is that a wolf? Sometimes it is hard to know. It appears to me that perhaps many of them don’t even know! Did those wolves really think they were the sheep, doing all the right sheeply things? Will they be totally surprised when Jesus denies them entrance to the kingdom? I am guessing the answer is yes for many.

What about me? If I could be wrong about them, and they could be wrong about themselves, could I be wrong about myself? How deep does this mistaken identity problem go? How can I tell? I don’t want to wait until THAT day to find out I was wrong! I don’t want Jesus to block my entrance to eternal life. I don’t want Jesus to call me an evildoer and say that he never knew me. I want to be known by Jesus on that day. So what do I do today?

Jesus tells us. He says it’s not enough to call him Lord and brag about an impressive ministry checklist. Instead, we must be doing the will of His Father in heaven. Am I doing God’s will? How will I know? He’s not just looking for a lot of boxes checked off – that didn’t work. What does He really want from me? What is His will?

Anytime you are sincerely trying to give someone what they want – a birthday present for a family member, a job well done for a boss, or a surprise for a friend – the more you know about the recipient the easier it is to know what they want. Similarly, the more we know God the easier it is to know what He wants, what His will is, and what He doesn’t want. And the best way to get to know God is spending time with Him – seeking Him in His Scriptures, reading His words, speaking to Him in prayer, building a relationship that goes far beyond a checklist.

Don’t be wrong about who God is and what He wills. Seek Him today. Seek Him today and every day from now until THAT day.

Dear God, I pray, reveal yourself to me. Please show me who you are and what you want. I don’t want to be wrong about You and Your Son and Your Kingdom and Your Will. Help me to know your will and do it. I want to be known by Your Son, today and on that day. Help me be pleasing to You.

-Marcia Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. What is your favorite part of Matthew 7 today? Why? How can you act upon it (hear these words and put it into practice – vs 24)?
  2. How can you guard against cases of mistaken identity? What should we look for in determining if one is a true sheep?
  3. What do you learn about God in your reading today? How can you use this information wisely?

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