Grand Sweep Daily
Matthew 9:9-13 (NIV)
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him. 10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Him and His disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
A Muslim man converted to Christianity after his family had been exposed to a vibrant Christian community of faith. When asked about his conversion, he told this story. His father owned a small grocery store in a very poor part of town. Many of his customers could not afford to pay for their food or medicine. A pastor, who frequented his place of business, always overpaid for his purchases. Insisting the shop owner take the extra money and use it to help someone that day who might not be able to afford their purchase. It was the preacher’s son who invited the shop owner’s son to church one weekend. The shop owner allowed his son to go, because he knew and trusted the heart of that preacher. Have you ever overpaid and was truly happy about it?
After worship, the boys would go out to eat dinner with members of the local youth group and its pastors. He felt a little uncomfortable, as he never had any money to help pay for his food. Someone always bought his dinner. They never made a big deal about it. Money just always appeared and he was able to eat dinner every Sunday night with his best friend. He really felt like he was part of the group. One December evening as they were leaving the restaurant, a young waitress ran out onto the parking lot, looking for the youth leaders. “Excuse me,” she said. “You way overpaid for your meal tonight. The bill was less than $30 and a $100 tip was left at the table.” The young boy was amazed as he listened to the response of his best friend. “Ma’am, you have small children at home?” “Yes,” the waitress said, somewhat confused by his question. “You work hard for us every week, fixing our food, taking our orders, and serving us dinner. That tip was appropriate. We all emptied our pockets and gave you what we had because we want you and your family to be blessed. You have been so good to us. We wish we had more to give you.” The woman, in stunned silence, broke into tears. Thanking the group, she told them she hoped whenever they visited the restaurant, she hoped they would sit at her table and allow her to serve them. Have you ever overpaid someone on purpose?
Matthew was a Jew who was hired by the Romans to collect taxes. He not only took money from his neighbors and friends, and also from the merchants passing through town. Tax collectors were paid on commission, yet most of them overcharged the people and kept all the profit for themselves. Matthew had a reputation for greed, cheating, stealing, and supporting the evil Roman rule. Why would Jesus befriend a tax collector like Matthew?
The new Christian convert said it was the care and compassion shown for that waitress and her family that took him from seeking to believing. He saw Christ’s love displayed in the lives of his pastors, youth leaders, and friends. Their passion and compassion for others and reaching out with everything they had to give, made the person of Jesus Christ become a real and living presence in his life. He could see it in the selflessness in his friends and understand that kind of love can only come from God. How often do you show true mercy to the stranger who passes you at your local market, or who to the one waits your table at the restaurant where you eat dinner at night?
It is no wonder when Matthew met Jesus, he jumped at the invitation to follow Him. Matthew knew this man was different. He knew his life would be forever changed by the One who chose to spend time with his friends and co-workers, risking ridicule by society’s elite, and teachers of the law. Jesus way overpaid to save humanity from their sin. His merciful heart and compassion for all continues to reach out to every generation around the world. When someone gives you an undeserved gift that you cannot begin to repay, what will you do with it? Can you look into the eyes of the One who loves you and say, “No thanks?” Or will you leave your life of sin behind, drop everything, and simply follow the Lord?
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles,
Pray for: opportunities to overpay someone today. A new Christian rejoices as every one of his family members believe in the risen Christ. When you overpay, it may be the one thing that makes an everlasting difference in the life of another human soul.
© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding
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