Debbie Salter Goodwin
The Tax Collector and Me
Read Luke 5: 27-28
Matthew was a tax collector. He was hated, snubbed, and considered a Jewish traitor. He over-collected required governmental taxes with no remorse. Nu
mbed to the social isolation because he lived well, he probably rationalized that he “did it for the family.” It is an age-old excuse to make something wrong feel right.
What disarming look did Jesus give him? What made Levi see the contrast between the lie he built his life upon and the truth that could free him? What made him leave his tax-collecting post and follow the stranger who saw into his heart? Whatever it was, life changed for Matthew that day. He no longer took from others what did not belong to him. Instead, he lived to give more than he took.
Who Am I?
I fear I am the tax collector more than I want to admit. There is a self-centered push to excise from others what I do not have. I look for understanding, confidence, security and expect someone else to make a hefty contribution to my meager resources. However, when I bring Jesus into my tax-collecting; he reminds me that when I let others supply what should come from Him, I stay needy. He gives me the same opportunity he gave Matthew: leave my tax-collecting folly to follow Him into a deeper security than I could have known any other place.
Who Are You?
Perhaps you are the one who has given too much because some tax collector bullied you into paying it. You over-give, over-help, over-compensate.
Or perhaps you are waiting for God to strike your tax collector, sternly rebuke this one who keeps you needy. But Jesus stands in front of you to tell you He can fill you better.
Or maybe you are watching this scene and hoping Jesus won’t point out your tax collecting ways. Is it control or insecurity that keeps you where you do not belong?
Whoever you are in this story, seek Jesus. Hear his life-changing words to follow Him. Only His ways, His balance, His values transform.
Simple story; uncomfortable truth. But oh, the freedom that waits when we live it.