Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? 

“Tax collectors and sinners.” That’s how these Pharisees described the people Jesus was eating with (Matthew 9:11). Why didn’t they use their names? They might not have known them. But perhaps it was because they didn’t see these folks as individuals with God-given dignity. Unfortunately, that’s how we might relate to people we don’t understand or maybe don’t want to understand. We distance ourselves by putting them into a category. That way, we don’t have to interact with them. But in doing so, we risk overlooking the God-given dignity of each person.

Jesus, on the other hand, looked at people much differently. He didn’t view them as “other.” He saw their humanity first and their behavior second. Each one was a person he wanted to know and love and heal. He wanted to be in a relationship with each of them and for each of them to receive his love and forgiveness.

We can learn a lot from Jesus’ approach to people! Everyone we meet is our brother or sister. Everyone was made by God to know him in this life and live with him forever in heaven.

So how do we interact with the people we meet? We follow Jesus’ example. He gained peoples’ trust by loving them and treating them with respect. He acknowledged where they were in their lives, and he invited them into his kingdom.

Treating people with respect is a lot more challenging than dismissing the ones we see as different or difficult. In fact, following Jesus’ example will require that we put aside the subtle—or not-so-subtle—judgments we hold so that we can show his love to other people. It will call us to consider how Jesus viewed the people everyone else shunned and to ask him to help us see them with his eyes. And that’s always something he’s ready to do in us.

So think about who the “tax collectors and sinners” in your life might be. How can you “eat with them” and, like Jesus, bring the kingdom of God into their lives?

“Lord, I want to see other people the way you see them. Help me to show your love to everyone I meet today.”

Amos 8:4-6, 9-12
Psalm 119:2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131
Matthew 9:9-13


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