I held the perfectly cooked golden nugget in my fingers. I was at a popular fast food restaurant, savoring an entree that was one of their specialties. Received in a plain paper wrapper, it was neither fancy nor elegant, but it was delicious! It was exactly what I wanted and it satisfied me as well as any opulent dish I have eaten at world class restaurants. Of course, one should not compare a fast food restaurant to a three star Michelin restaurant. The goals and customer base of each restaurant are very different. Our judgments should always be determined by the circumstances.
There are little consequences when we judge restaurants. What about when we judge others? The truth is, like restaurants, we do hold others to different standards, judging them on their intentions and circumstances. Both the driver who does a rolling stop and the driver who is driving under the influence of alcohol will receive a ticket but the latter is clearly more serious and egregious and will be judged accordingly. The Bible records an encounter between a reviled sinner and Jesus Christ.
Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Luke 19:8-10 (NASB)
During the time of Jesus Christ, no one liked tax collectors, perhaps even more than today! They were viewed as traitors, sellouts to the conquering Romans, betraying their Jewish heritage to make a profit for themselves. For Jesus to stop and dine with a tax collector was unprecedented. Yet, Jesus knew the heart and intentions of Zaccheus. He recognized that he was a sinner and needed to repent of his actions. Zaccheus knew that he would be judged by a different standard from his fellow Jews. It was not enough to simply repay those whom he defrauded, he vowed to restore anyone’s losses four fold. He also promised to take care of the poor by selling half of his possessions.
Sin is sin; all sin is an affront to God. Yet, sins have different consequences. Jesus recognized this and judged accordingly. Thanks be to God that He accepts all sinners, regardless of the nature of their sins, and forgives them if they confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.