How do people treat their kids volunteer coach? Have you been to a sports field to watch what happens? Or maybe in a gym? Parents will lose their minds over what position their kid plays and if they win or lose. If you are in the stands listening to them talk, what do you hear? All the negative comments about the coach, the other team, the playing conditions – right? We won’t even talk about what is said if the kid doesn’t play much or is cut from the team… oh my word!
After the event, they get into their brand new car, go out to eat before they go back to their 3,000 square foot house to email the volunteer coach how disappointed they are in the coaching. Where is the gratitude in life? What has happened to us? Why do we act this way?
Last week I opened the series and shared the two things everyone needs to understand and believe to be grateful. We find both things in this one sentence.
3:24 Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. MSG Romans 3:23-24
We said step 1 in having gratitude is understanding, we are a spiritual mess and we can’t do a thing about it. We are in desperate need of God. Seriously, step one is realizing you are in desperate need of God. We said step 2 in having gratitude is understanding, because of our mess, God did it for us. In our desperate need, God steps in and removes our sin, guilt and shame. And all we have to do is rest in that. That’s called grace. That’s the core of being grateful.
Let’s be clear, when you don’t see your need of God, it’s an obvious road block to following Christ and walking in gratitude. If you don’t see your need of God, following God is a pain. When you don’t realize that God did everything for you and you can rest in that grace, it can turn your relationship with God into a weird set of rules, or a moral code you have to muscle through. We can become like the older son in the prodigal son story we talked about last week. Remember what the older son told his father?
“All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.” NIV Luke 15
That is a picture of many Christians today working hard to push through the moral code but not in a personal, life giving relationship with Christ.
Today I want to talk to you about that power of God’s grace. I want to read for you about a man and what happened to him when he met Jesus. He was a deeply hated man because he was a crook. The Romans in Jesus’ day collected taxes. The Romans hired Jewish people to collect the taxes from the Jewish people. This helped the Romans avoid any personal confrontation. But, the Jewish people deeply resented the Jewish tax collectors. To make matters worse, the Jewish tax collector would charge more than the Romans charged and kept the extra for themselves. The Jewish people couldn’t legally change this because the Romans didn’t care, in fact, the Romans protected the tax collectors. So tax collectors were very rich and very hated.
1 As Jesus was passing through Jericho, a man named Zacchaeus, one of the most influential Jews in the Roman tax-collecting business (and, of course, a very rich man), 3 tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowds. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed into a sycamore tree beside the road, to watch from there. 5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name! “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick! Come down! For I am going to be a guest in your home today!”
6 Zacchaeus hurriedly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the crowds were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.
8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “Sir, from now on I will give half my wealth to the poor, and if I find I have overcharged anyone on his taxes, I will penalize myself by giving him back four times as much!”
9 Jesus told him, “This shows that salvation has come to this home today. This man was one of the lost sons of Abraham, and I, the Messiah, have come to search for and to save such souls as his.” TLB Luke 19:1-9
Zacchaeus meets Jesus and his heart was completely transformed. Because his heart was completely transformed, it showed up in how we dealt with life. He moved from being a thief to being honest. His view of money was radically changed from greed to generosity. His view of people radically changed from using them to serving them. And when Jesus heard what Zacchaeus said, what did Jesus conclude, “This shows that salvation has come to this home today.”
I want to ask you, has salvation come to your home? Have you been transformed by God’s grace? Has your view of money, people and life radically changed? Or, are you still doing what you have always done and life is kinda flat?
This is important to understand, God’s grace changes everything. It transforms your heart first, it then transforms how you view everything. And, it’s important to also understand, you can’t fake this.
What happened with Zacchaeus? Let’s read what he said,
“Sir, from now on I will give half my wealth to the poor”
First thing we see, he had a heart transformation in the area of money. He was greedy, now he is generous. Money wasn’t his driving issue of his heart any more, love was.
I want to ask you; how do you view money? Is it the driver of your life? Has it become so important to you that you believe you must hoard it like Zacchaeus? Would you be better off winning the Power Ball or being in a relationship with Christ? Jesus told this story about money.
16 “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 In fact, his barns were full to overflowing-he couldn’t get everything in. He thought about his problem, 18 and finally exclaimed, ‘I know – I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones! Then I’ll have room enough. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “Friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Wine, women, and song for you!”‘
20 “But God said to him, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. Then who will get it all?’ 21 “Yes, every man is a fool who gets rich on earth but not in heaven.” TLB Luke 12:16-21
The only thing that has the power to change someone from hoarding to giving is the power of grace. It is the power that breaks greed and you realize, money is a tool, it’s not a god.
When Zacchaeus said,
“Sir, from now on I will give half my wealth to the poor”
we see a second transformation. Grace changed the way he saw people. He used to think, “What can I get from you?” Now, he thinks, “Are you in need, how can I help you?”
I want to ask you; how do you view people? Like your spouse? Your kids? Your boss? Your neighbor? Your kids volunteer coach? Do they owe you something? Do you love them or do you have expectations of them?
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. 4 Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. 5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. NLT Philippians 2:3-7
The only thing that has the power to change someone from being selfish to humble is the power of grace. It is the power that breaks pride and you realize, my role isn’t to build myself up to look important, my role is to help others get ahead in life.
Zacchaeus then said,
“and if I find I have overcharged anyone on his taxes, I will penalize myself by giving him back four times as much!”
He became wealthy by being dishonest. Now, he wants to live an honest life and hold himself accountable.
How do you live? Do you live with integrity? Do you cut corners? How do you do your homework?
People with integrity have firm footing, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall. NLT Proverbs 10:9
The only thing that has the power to change a cheater into someone who has integrity is the power of grace. It is the power that breaks that lazy attitude and you realize, a successful life is built on integrity and character.
The power of God’s grace changes everything. It transforms your heart first, then transforms how you view everything. It’s important to also understand, you can’t fake this.
How do you view money?
How do you view people?
How do you view life?
Maybe, maybe, maybe you need a moment like Zacchaeus had. A confrontation with God’s grace. A transformation.
I want to close with this. Knowing that God’s grace transforms your heart and how you view everything, what do you think we should work on when we leave here? Remember, grace transforms your heart first, then it shows up in how you live.
When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. NLT Galatians 5:22-23
Please read that first part again. The Holy Spirit produces ALL that stuff in us. You do not go out and try to be more loving, more joyful, more patient… it doesn’t work. Why? Because we are a mess. We have no ability to live out any glorious standard. Only God can produce that stuff in us. Remember, He did it all.
What do we do? We spend time with Christ and we make right choices. That’s what it means to give control to the Holy Spirit. The Message Version says it like this:
He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard. MSG Galatians 5:22