Jesus was walking into Jericho when he sees the little man in a sycamore tree. “Zacchaeus come on down. I’m going to your house for dinner,” Jesus says.
The Bible tells us that Zacchaeus was a bad man and he was also short - no relation. He stole from and cheated the people of Jericho. They didn’t like him. Then he meets with Jesus and it turned out like every God encounter I have ever had. It goes something like this...
Jesus comes, honors me by meeting with me. He doesn’t bring up my past, my weakness or failures. There is no condemnation, shame, or guilt. Instead, when I find myself in his presence, I am simply humbled by his love for me. Yes I am aware of who I was but I am infinitely more aware of who He is, that He dwells in me and my heart is challenged to be holy as He is holy.
After Zacchaeus met with Jesus, Zacchaeus gave half of what he owned to the poor and returned to those he stole from four times over the amount taken. Jesus didn’t ask him to do this. Jesus didn’t even raise his eyebrow and give Zacchaeus the universal mom look that says “you know what you need to do.” The Bible doesn’t always give inflection but I’m pretty sure that Jesus didn’t say “I must eat at your house today” with sarcasm and eyerolling. If there was emphasis on the “must,” it was enthusiasm!
I have heard this story since I was a child and I sang the cute litte ditty about Zacchaeus being “a wee little man and a wee little man was he” …ok, sometimes I still sing it… But as a kid without any sense of economics, I thought nothing of the fact that Zacchaeus gave away half his worth. It seemed pretty natural to just give up more than half of what you had cause Jesus was nice.
As an adult who likes to eat and sleep indoors and who has a wife and kids who also like to eat and sleep indoors, and who has to pay for it himself, I know Zacchaeus’ generosity wasn’t inspired just because Jesus was nice. Nice is nice, but “nice” doesn’t have the power to inspire this kind of generosity. This wasn’t just about Jesus being nice. This was about Zacchaeus experiencing the revelation of Jesus’ love. This was about Zacchaeus experiencing unmerited grace and mercy. He got saved.
As you already know, you can’t go on as you did, once Jesus’ love is encountered. Zacchaeus’ response to Jesus was birthed from love. Love is what pricks a conscience or convicts us. Mercy and grace received, births generosity.
There is a difference between conviction and condemnation. One is holy the other is evil. One brings life, the other death. When I meet with Jesus I never come away feeling condemnation. That’s not how he operates. It is actually counter to his nature.
If somehow you are experiencing shame or condemnation when you meet with God I would like to suggest that you didn’t get it from him. It was probably there before you met with him and instead of giving it to Him, you took it away with you…
Jesus died for me, and for you. He took all our shame, all our guilt and all condemnation. Once we enter into his love we have no right to take it back. Let me make this clear, we as believers no longer have any right to feel shame, condemnation or guilt. The Bible says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom 8:1) To accept condemnation actually belittles what Jesus did on the cross. He died so that we no longer have to live under condemnation.
I know this sounds like a tall order but it’s really just a perspective change. It’s a revelation we need to posses. If I miss God, if I sin, then I repent – change the way I think. I don’t take on guilt, condemnation or shame.
Its not that I am saying I am unaware of who I am without Jesus. Without Jesus I am guilty. I have never come away from a reflection of my guilt better off than when I started. It's crazy to me that people want to get to know themselves better. Why? What good would that do? I want to know what God thinks about me. I want to see myself through His eyes. Cause through Gods eyes Zacchaeus was capable of giving more than half of what he owned away. Cause through Gods eyes, I am capable of living the “greater works than these lifestyle. And that’s what I signed up for.
Here is the thing, when you see through Gods eyes you become capable of all the things that condemnation says you aren’t.