Laughing with the Sinners

What pulls you back up the hill when you fall down?

Zechariah 4:6


Devotional Thought

I have a friend named Phil. Phil is one of the most pure-hearted people I know. Phil is a recovering alcoholic. Nearly seventeen years ago, Phil began a spiritual journey that has witnessed an amazing transformation. Since his initial date of sobriety, God has been restoring the pieces of Phil’s life that were broken by addiction.

However, two years ago this month, Phil’s eldest son was killed in an automobile accident. Phil’s grief plunged him into depression. Three months after the tragedy, Phil went on a drinking binge that sent him to the hospital. Phil narrowly escaped death.

Since that weekend bender, God has helped Phil, once again, pick up the broken pieces of his life and move forward. Today, Phil lives by the mantra, “I am alive and sober only by God’s grace.”

Phil has been criticized by many people within his local church. He is often greeted with the words, “Well, here comes that old drunk.” Phil counters, “You’re right. I am an old drunk saved by grace through my faith in Jesus Christ.” Phil is anything but pretentious. Any Christian virtue revealed through his character Phil attributes to the work of the Holy Spirit in his life.

Phil demonstrates the biblical understanding that purity in heart is a matter of one’s transparency before God rather than any falsely conceived notion of self-righteousness. The work of becoming holy just as Jesus is holy belongs to God. Yet each of us must make a choice to place our hearts in such a position that God can perform this holy work. As God declared through the words of the prophet, Zechariah, “’Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6, ESV).

So, to my friend, Phil, I say, “May your tribe increase!” And, may I join their number. As Billy Joel wrote, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners [over the joy of my salvation] than cry with saints.”