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Day Thirty-Four of Lent

April 8, 2019
By MB Discipleship

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:8-10

A real encounter with God means substantive life change.

Years ago, sometimes a phrase would be used to describe fervent but short-lived enthusiasm: “the zeal of a convert.” Often it would be used in a dry or tired tone of someone who’s seen change quickly embraced – and quickly abandoned. Frequently, it suggested a powerful emotional response that wouldn’t stand the test of time.

Have you found yourself quickly getting on board with an idea or belief or even a product or lifestyle change, only to have your enthusiasm wane with time? Many of us know that New Year’s Resolutions aren’t really tested on January 1st, but around the end of February, or mid-April, or July.

At the same time, cynicism isn’t a mark of the Holy Spirit, and there are times when genuine encounter with God brings real, lasting change. To doubt that real change can occur in a person’s life sometimes says more about our belief in God than it does our skepticism of a person.

When Zacchaeus has a meaningful encounter with Jesus, he makes things right with people he knows he’s wronged. He doesn’t try to dodge his wrongdoing. But his sense of profit and loss changes when he’s face to face with Jesus. He hadn’t accumulated his wealth through ethical practices that demonstrated respect for others. So he stands up and announces he will give half away, and will return four times whatever he cheated – and that’s an important element to consider, because taking from someone else doesn’t just mean cheating them of what they could have had yesterday, but also robbing them of what that asset could have brought them today and tomorrow.

Jesus’ actions were never wasted; when he left Jericho, he left a community that was being transformed by restitution and justice, and it wasn’t something he’d had to enforce; it was something that came about through the transformation of one person, when that person was brought into the presence of Jesus Christ. Zacchaeus was changed and the community was changed.

None of us live in a vacuum; our lives influence others. Has someone wronged you? Ask God to work in their hearts and bring transformation. But – does someone potentially have something against you? Ask God to work in your heart and go out of your way to make it right. When we invite God into the messiness of human interaction, sometimes we get to witness new life in dead relationships.

*Is there anything you need to make right today?