Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” -Luke 19:9-10, NIV
Sometimes we beat up on ourselves about past mistakes and regrets. We get caught in a loop about an incident and get stuck trying to correct, erase, or compensate for it. The past can be a hindrance to future success. The past can also get in the way of experiencing God’s love, grace, and mercy.
When we get caught in a loop about the past, it helps to remember people from the Bible, who like us, were flawed. One character that comes to mind is Zacchaeus, the tax collector who played host to Jesus Christ. His story is found in Luke 19:1-9.
When Zacchaeus climbed the tree to see Jesus, it’s doubtful that he thought that Jesus would ever pay attention to him. So, when Jesus said that he would be staying at his home, the tax collector responded with enthusiasm and he welcomed Jesus gladly.
As soon as Jesus shined the spotlight on Zacchaeus, the crowds began to mutter. They recounted his sins and started a whisper campaign about him. Back in the day, tax collectors were considered the worst of the worst. Zacchaeus was no exception, which is why people took exception when he was given the honor of hosting Jesus.
Jesus, and Zacchaeus for that matter, could care less. Jesus saw a man in need. Jesus knew that he had messed up big time and many times. Jesus was more interested in Zacchaeus as a child of God than in his past mistakes.
Also, Zacchaeus did not continue to beat up on himself. He accepted Jesus’ forgiveness, forgave himself, and did what he had to do to make things right. Zacchaeus responded to God’s grace by offering to repay his debt to society. Zacchaeus said, “Lord! Here and now, I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (19:8).
Jesus responded, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (19:9-10).
Jesus did not rehash all of the sins of Zacchaeus. Jesus didn’t gossip about his sins to his disciples. Jesus didn’t freeze him out of the church meeting. Jesus didn’t prevent him from making amends. Jesus offered him salvation and reminded the crowd that the reason why he came was to seek and save the lost.
If Jesus is not in the habit of recounting a person’s sin, why do we beat up on ourselves so much when we make mistakes or commit sins? Why can’t we accept God’s grace, mercy, and love through Christ Jesus?
When we are caught in a loop, we may wonder how to stop the cycle. It usually means we are struggling with forgiving ourselves. However, it’s not complicated. It’s simple, like Zacchaeus, we need only to repent and do better. We simply need to see ourselves through the eyes of God’s love.