When you accuse someone of doing something bad, do they admit they did it? When you tell them they are a bad person, do they readily agree with you? Probably not. When we humans are confronted, our instinct is to defend ourselves. Even if we did what they are saying, we think they have no right to come in here accusing us!
In church on Sunday, the topic in both our children and adult services was Zacchaeus. The kids service had a skit about him that was hilarious, but that is neither here nor there. Something occurred to me. Not only did Jesus see Zacchaeus when he climbed that sycamore tree, he didn’t condemn him. He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down. For I’m going to your house today.” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist putting the song in your head.)
What would have happened if Jesus had lectured the infamous tax collector about his wicked ways? Do you think he would have sheepishly told Jesus he was right? Most likely, he would have defended his thieving ways. “Well, Jesus, I needed all that extra money. You don’t know my bills!” Or “What right do you have to come accusing me? You just met me!” It would not have gone well.
Jesus was kind and showed that he loved this sinner, who probably felt like he was the worst of anyone around. Everyone there hated Zacchaeus and wanted nothing to do with him. Not Jesus. Jesus wanted everything to do with him!
How do you handle people when they let you down, lie to you, take something of yours, or hurt your feelings? Do you yell at them or show compassion? When someone disagrees with you, do you think about their side and why they feel that way, or do you assume there is nothing redeeming about them? I can tell you when you lash out at someone, they aren’t going to suddenly see things your way. They won’t agree that you are right, because you put them on the defensive.
Zacchaeus felt loved, seen, and known by Jesus because of one simple action Jesus took. Might we think twice the next time we think someone needs a good telling off? Would it be a better idea to take a deep breath and try to understand them? This person standing in front of us has a heart designed by God and lives a life we don’t have all the insight for.
If Jesus can know everything about Zacchaeus’ life and the condition of his heart and still love him, can we not show compassion to the person who cuts us off in traffic? Is it not possible to remember that we all make mistakes and cover over someone’s mistake with love? I guarantee the results will be better if we have compassion instead of judgment.
Is there someone in your life who routinely makes you angry? I suggest you begin praying for them and for your interactions with them. You can’t react like Jesus without His help. He will guide your words and help you show love and compassion!
Linking with Holley Gerth