when you are the one offended
This seemingly insignificant detail is on the fringes of the well-known story of a wee little man. We don’t normally focus on those who had been cheated by Zacchaeus’ shady practices as a tax collector. No, it seems that his new-found relationship with Christ is front and center in the dramatic telling of a small man whose heart grew miraculously big with one God- encounter.
But, imagine that being a victim of dishonest taxation is your story. You were the one offended by Zacchaeus’ thievery, and you couldn’t do anything about it. You only paid what was demanded and kept quiet.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Your heart’s cry was heard by God as you poured out your sorrow over sending your youngest daughter off to become a household slave just so you could make payment. You asked the Father again and again for justice knowing that a day of vengeance was to come. You even prayed for the heart of your offender.
Zacchaeus. He did what he saw other tax collectors do: overcharge and dip hands into the excess for one’s own guilty pleasures while helpless citizens handed over home and children to avoid prison.
God the Father heard your prayers for Zacchaeus’ heart. On a day that Jesus was coming to the small man’s jurisdiction, Zacchaeus wanted to see the miracle man and climbed the tree outside his home to get a better view. He had no idea that your incessant prayers had been targeting his wee little heart… Zacchaeus was amazed that Jesus saw him. And, it became clear instantly that Jesus didn’t see only a man of small stature, He saw a man who sinned against God, but, still, He loved him. Jesus’ kindness led the tax collector to repentance, and he began his new journey of faith, loving God and loving people. This love required action, and the small measure of faith grew as Zacchaeus trusted God with his personal finances. He emptied out his accounts to overpay all of his taxation wrongs.
That’s right. The man who seemed so small to you the last time you saw him, was now standing tall and beaming as he explained his change of heart and handed over a money bag so heavy that you could barely carry it across the threshold. You looked past him and saw a cart full of more bags just like the one you received. “This man has really changed his ways,” you marveled.
God not only answered your prayers concerning the heart of your adversary and your needed justice, but He also repaid you double for your trouble! But isn’t that just like the grace of God? Ever since Jesus came on the scene, God has been fully revealed as the One who abounds in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.
“Thank you, Father,” you pray, “for forgiving my sin and accepting me when my heart was bound by evil desires. Your mercy never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for your abundant blessing and provision. You have shown me again the reward given to those who take refuge in You rather than trusting in man.”
You leave and head to the household where your daughter serves. Everyone along the route hears you excitedly announce, “Today, my daughter comes home!”
What offense do you need to give over to God today? Continue to pray and believe the Lord as you wait upon Him for His reward. He exceeds all of your imaginations!