I’ve made so many mistakes…
Tax collectors may not be too popular these days, but in Bible times they were hated, loathed, and greatly feared.
Jesus lived in an area governed by Rome, and Rome wanted lots of income from taxes. To maximize the amount collected, the Romans contracted Jews to collect taxes from the Jewish people. These tax collectors were given power to collect any amount of taxes and they kept much of it for themselves. If people wouldn’t or couldn’t pay, they could be forced to sell their children as slaves or even be killed.
Not surprisingly, tax collectors in that time and place were despised as traitors, thieves, and murderers.
In Matthew 9:9, Jesus encountered a tax collector: “As Jesus left Capernaum he came upon a tax-collecting station, where a traitorous Jew was busy at his work, collecting taxes for the Romans. His name was Matthew…”
Jesus knew the evil propagated by the Jewish men who collected taxes for Rome. He had every reason to be angry with Matthew, to call him out for his betrayal, his greed, and his abuse of his kinsmen in order to line his own pockets.
Was Jesus furious? Did he angrily call Matthew a traitor? A thief? No, Jesus wasn’t mad. He called Matthew to come and follow him. Matthew immediately left his tax collection station and followed Jesus. This vile tax collector went on to write the book of Matthew.
The religious people of the time were appalled and outraged, asking why Jesus would associate with low-life tax collectors. Jesus answered, “…Healthy people don’t need to see a doctor, but the sick will go for treatment” (Mark 9:12).
People don’t make God angry. Sin makes God angry.
God looks at sin like we look at a cancer that attacks the body of someone we love. We aren’t angry at that person. We don’t hate that person. We love the person, but we hate the cancer. We want to get rid of the cancer so the person we love will be healthy.
Just as we want our loved ones to be healthy, God wants us to be healthy. He is grieved at the sin in our lives because he knows it makes us spiritually unhealthy. He provided forgiveness, cleansing, and salvation at great cost to himself in order to free us from sin.
God isn’t mad at you. He doesn’t hold grudges. God loves you deeply and completely. “The way a loving father feels toward his children—that’s but a sample of your tender feelings toward us, your beloved children, who live in awe of you” (Psalm 103:13). Reject the idea that God is angry at you and eager to judge and punish you. That’s a lie from the enemy. Instead, believe the truth—God loves you tenderly, completely, and always.
Dear God, I accept your great love for me. In the past, I have believed you were angry at me, waiting to judge and punish me. Remove this lie from my heart and my mind. Replace it with faith in the greatness of your love for me. Help me love you with all my heart, soul, and mind. Help me love others the way you love me. In Jesus’s name, amen.