Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Luke 19:8
When we hear the word repent we might cringe. The word conjures up images of holier-than-thou preachers who seem to be saying, “You better change, or else.” “You better become like us, or else.” The story of Zacchaeus is the story of one of the most disliked men in Jericho being recognized and befriended by Jesus. Thus, in that moment, Zacchaeus became the most popular man in Jericho. Jesus said, “I must stay at your house today,” and everything began to change for Zacchaeus—one gracious act of acceptance and the little tax collector’s life began to turn around. Zacchaeus repented.
However we might choose to respond to the idea of repentance, Zacchaeus responded to the invitation to turn his life around with unbridled generosity and joy. You can sense Zacchaeus’s exuberance. “Look! Half my possessions, Lord. I will give to the poor!” Zacchaeus’s life had begun anew, and he leapt into it with generosity and enthusiasm. When we are lost, it is a joy to be found. When we are headed in the wrong direction, it is a blessing to have our course corrected. When we are not living as we should, it is a gift to repent.
Will you welcome the opportunity Jesus affords to turn your life around?
Lord God, I know I am lost. I may not like someone telling me how I am headed in the wrong direction, but perhaps that is a form of defensiveness born of truth. I am not living as I should. I want to turn around. I imagine what a profound joy it would be to turn toward You. Please call me down from my perch. Invite yourself into my life so that I might be found in You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.