|Photo by Andy Bullock (Flickr)|
Zacchaeus wiped the spit off his face – for the fourth time that morning. Nobody liked him. Nobody – except for the other tax collectors, of course.
Until Jesus entered his life. He sought him out, saying, “Zacchaeus, I want to spend some time with you. Let’s go to your house!”
And soon, Zacchaeus’s heart – and his life - changed!
The same man who had built a career cheating his neighbors, joyfully welcomed Jesus into his home. After spending time with Jesus, he pledged to give half of his goods to the poor and to pay back four times the amount he stole. (read his remarkable story in Luke 19:1-9)
Zacchaeus went from being a dishonest greedy man – hated by his own people, to a sincere and generous man – probably well-liked and respected by his community.
What changed Zacchaeus? We all quickly answer, “Jesus! It was Jesus!” Good answer. However, I didn’t ask who changed the man. I asked what transformed Zacchaeus’ heart?
This week’s verse offers a hint:
Luke 6:36 (New American Standard Bible)
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Perhaps for the first time in many years, instead of experiencing coldness, judgment and hate, Zacchaeus experienced genuine compassion, understanding and love. The mercy that was shown to him by Jesus, even before Zaccheaus began to change his behavior, enabled Zaccheaus to make different choices.
And most likely, Zaccheaus grew to see himself differently, too.
Would you please take time to consider if these questions relate to you?
1. After asking the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts, is it time to confess our shameful tendency to look down at and judge those we consider worse sinners than we consider ourselves?
2. Are we willing to allow God to help us see others as He sees them even before there’s evidence of a changed life? What about the person who doesn’t want to change?
3. Or will we continue pointing our fingers and wagging our tongues until the person does something to deserve our compassion and support?
If that’s the criteria, what must a person accomplish before we begin to pull for her or hope the best for him?
• We prayed for the person who has taken steps in a wrong direction, or is caught up in bad behavior?
• We got involved as God leads when we see signs that someone is spiraling downward?
How might our churches and communities benefit?
Lord, it is not hard for me to see how much I need Your help regarding my sinful judgmental attitudes. Please forgive me! And give me a heart like Yours which grieves when someone is going through a difficult time due to his or her choices. Show me ways to show mercy while offering practical help.
This week’s goal: (And Practical Applications)
This week, while meditating on (with the intent to memorize) Luke 6:36, I will ask God to convict my heart each time I begin to judge or look down upon anyone. I will also ask God to show me practical ways I can reach out to those He leads me to help and pray for.
For instance, when I receive a phone call about a negative report regarding someone I know, instead of giving into the temptation to add to the gossip, I will ask the caller to join me in prayer for that person and discuss what practical things we could do to restore him or her.
What do you think? I would love to have a real conversation about this topic!
• How do you think Zaccheaus started his day the morning after spending time with Jesus?
• What are some practical ways we can show God’s mercy to those caught in the consequences of their bad or sinful choices?
• What part(s) of this post zings you the most?
(Post your comments on one or several points mentioned using the comment link. Click on the Sharing Guidelines tab for instructions on how to post comments)
Note: Memorizing Scripture Blog (for anyone) and the Coffee with Sheryl blog (for ladies) both have the Current Goals tab located under the blogs' headers. "Current Goals" offers several practical links including: being a better spouse or parent, choosing better eating and exercising habits, overcoming addictions, dealing with depression, etc. The Immediate Goals link (for setting task-related goals) is only available at the Coffee with Sheryl Blog
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