Yesterday, we saw how radical it was that Jesus embraced Zacchaeus, despite the fact that he was a short, crooked tax collector. Even knowing these things, the Lord saw fit to invite Himself over to his house that very day. By extending a hand that said, “I want to get to know you,” He offered a marginalized man a place of belonging, and everything changed. This is because acceptance always precedes repentance. Knowing that he was finally loved for who he was, Zacchaeus’ natural response was to change his ways and right the things he had done wrong. In fact, Jewish law stated that if you had cheated someone, you had to pay them back four times the amount, and this is what he vowed to do. We can only imagine how many people had come pounding on his door through the years saying, “Hey, open up you so and so, I want my money back!” or “You lousy criminal, you need to make this right!” I’m certain he’d been scolded, chewed out, and condemned on numerous occasions, but only after having his worth affirmed in God’s eyes was he set free to turn his life around. This is also true for us today. While it’s tempting to continually remind people of their wrongs, real change happens when we accept others right where they are.
My friend, the best thing you can do to reach those who seem unreachable is to simply get to know them. The Holy Spirit lives within you, and it’s His job to convict and bring transformation — yours is simply to love. By offering the broken, outcast, addicted, and hurting a safe place to rest their soul, your empathy and support might just lift them out of the pit so they can meet the One who offers them a firm place to stand. Jesus is the Rock Eternal, and His righteousness and compassion are powerful enough to draw even the most hardened and lost to His heart of overflowing grace.