How many of you can remember your favorite gift from last Christmas? Right, most of us can’t remember what we bought at the store last week.
But how many of you can remember a time someone stole from you or maybe a time someone cheated on you?
Immediately, I can think of two petty instances from my childhood… a “friend” who stole one of my dolls and a classmate in kindergarten who always tried to peek at my answers. (It’s pretty sad when you have to cheat in kindergarten.)
It’s an unfortunate but true reality that we remember the hurt or the unfairness others have done to us more than the blessings the people in our lives often bring.
How can we learn to re-train our thoughts to think the best – not the worst – of others?
Zacchaeus was not a popular guy, and he wasn’t the kind of guy who cared about being popular. His one ambition in life was money, and he was good at getting it – even if it meant taking advantage of others.
Luke 19:2 tell us, “He was a chief tax collector and was rich.” Yet deep down, he was not content. He was craving something, something this world couldn’t offer, that would completely satisfy him.
Jesus was in Jericho, his hometown. Maybe that strange, miracle-working man who had his entire city talking could tell him what he was missing.
Trouble was, no one would let him through to reach Him – and he was too short to see over the crowd. The fellow in front of him stood like a stone statue. Right, he had cheated him on last year’s taxes. The woman next to him pretended he didn’t exist as she listened to Jesus’ words.
The Man’s voice seemed to burn away the emptiness in his soul. Desperate to see Him, Zacchaeus forgot his pride and climbed a sycamore tree.
Jesus was coming his way. His hands grew sweaty, and his heart pounded in his ears. Would Jesus just look past him like everyone else did?
No, Jesus noticed. Not just noticed, but spoke right to him. “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5b, ESV).
Jesus looked beyond Zacchaeus’ fault and saw his need; as a result, that miserable tax collector made a joyful conversion. Salvation came to his house, because Someone gave him a second chance.
We’re quick to judge and hold grudges – but slow to realize that people can change. We’re quick to think the worst of others before they even open their mouths – but slow to listen to what they have to say.
A song by Steve Green says, “Every day, we pass them by. I can see it in their eyes. Empty people filled with care, headed who knows where… People need the Lord.”
Be a person who listens before forming a response. Be a person who gives second chances even to those who may not deserve it.
In doing so, you will point people to the Lord.