God’s plans will override those of the swindlers Micah describes. And that sounds only fair, doesn’t it? In fact, we get a certain sense of satisfaction when we read about the just deserts coming to these terrible individuals. It goes without saying that we can identify with the swindled, or at least that we stand with them in our righteous disgust over the injustice they are experiencing.
Pastor and author Bill Hybels points out in a sermon that each of us is born with closed fingers. He goes on to describe ways in which that grasping response stays with us until finally, in death, we relax our grip. That sounds pretty consistent with Micah’s oppressors. But Hybels is talking about you and me.
When we get to the Gospels, we see Jesus responding to peoples’ greed and oppression in a different manner than the judgment described in Micah 2:1–5. Hybels envisions a scene between Jesus and a certain swindler named Zacchaeus (see Lk 19:1–10):
Zacchaeus was a clutcher … until he had dinner with Jesus …
Here is what I imagine Jesus might have said over dinner: “Hey, Zacchaeus. What your heart yearns for will never be satisfied by that which you are hanging on to so tightly. Your heart was meant to be in deep communion with God and in loving community with other people in the Family of God. You have walked away from that kind of communion and are settling for something far less. You are settling for trying to meet the needs of your heart by clutching stuff.”
I think Jesus might have gone on, “You know what I am going to do for you? In the not too distant future, I am going to open up my hands and they are going to receive steel spikes so that guys like you with hands like yours can be changed. I am going to be so generous to you, Zacchaeus. I am going to take your sin and greed and lack of love and I am going to pay for it on the cross and present salvation to you as a gift.
“And I won’t stop there. I am going to adopt you into my family. I am going to answer your prayers. I am going to give you strength through the storms of life. And I am going to give you heaven on top of all.”
At a certain point in the conversation, I think the enormity of Jesus’ generosity melted Zacchaeus and something changed on the inside. Zacchaeus emerges with his voice trembling with excitement and newfound conviction …
When your heart gets transformed by generous grace, your hands have a way of opening up.
Maybe it isn’t so hard after all to see ourselves on the negative side of justice, at least some of the time. None of us looks forward to comeuppance, but “Come to me, … and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28) sounds inviting.
Lord, transform my life by your power and presence. Help me to fully realize the extent of Jesus’ gifts to me.