What About You?
Have You Ever Made Bad Choices?
What does the story of Zacchaeus have to do with your child? Well, if they are anything like my children, it is highly likely they have made wrong choices and have been tempted by greed. Like Zacchaeus, they can learn that Jesus loves them an incredible amount through all their mistakes and bad choices. He will not turn his back on them! Enjoy spending time with your family reading this great story of the love Jesus has for each one of us. You will have plenty of opportunities to discuss the questions on each page as you turn to this book again and again, so pass over them at first. Start by simply enjoying the story, your time together, and the questions your child asks as you read Zacchaeus and Me. Take time with your children to discuss the choices Zacchaeus made compared to your own family’s temptations to make similar choices, the way others treated Zacchaeus compared to the way your kids get treated or treat others, and how Jesus brings it all back to love.
Life Lessons From Zacchaeus and Me
Don’t let things become more important than people.
It is easy to see the mistakes that Zacchaeus made in choosing money over friendships because we are looking at someone else. It is more difficult to judge ourselves in the same way we judge characters in a story – bible story or any story. Character development is actually one of the things teachers work very hard on with their students in both comprehending stories and writing their own stories. We can see how the choices Zacchaeus made affected his reputation with others. What can we see in our lives that is affecting our relationships and reputation with those we spend time with? Are we building a good reputation based on our choices or are we getting left out like Zacchaeus because of our choices? Have we made things more important than people? When have we felt greedy because we wanted something so badly? This story provides a wonderful opportunity to talk with your family about the materialism of the world. Discuss ways your family can allow Jesus’s love to help you keep your priorities in the correct order.
Jesus wants to spend time with you, even when you mess up.
Boy were those townspeople shocked when Jesus chose Zacchaeus to spend his afternoon with! Sometimes we can fall into that same trap, thinking that Jesus prefers the best of the best – kind, loving, sharing, caring… But we learn in this story, that is not true. Jesus came to teach, love and save EVERYONE – even a lying, cheating, thief. It is great news to share with our kids, especially when they mess up. The way that Jesus went and spent time with Zacchaeus is exactly what he wants to do with all of us. And not to give us a lecture or tell us we can do better, but to let us see how much he loves us. It is most important that we help our children understand that Jesus is there for us no matter what we have done. The whole reason Jesus came to earth was to save us from our sins, would he have done that if he thought we were going to be perfect all the time? Have some great family discussions on how you can invite Jesus to your house today.
Jesus can mend the meanness within your heart
Zacchaeus spent time with Jesus and realized the wrong he had been doing. He made a bold statement to the townspeople that he would pay them all back and never steal from them again. We don’t want our kids to think that it was an instant and easy change for Zacchaeus. The Bible doesn’t tell us what happens after Jesus leaves, is Zacchaeus able to start over, does he slip back and start to fall into the trap of greed again, or do his new friends help him stay on track. When we spend time with Jesus, we may be like Zacchaeus and see that there is something we are doing that we are not proud of. Jesus can help us make changes in our heart, but we can’t plan on those changes to be easy-peasy and happen in an instant. Jesus will help us, but it will be work and it may take a while before we really change. This is such a great opportunity for your family to talk about willpower, getting help from Jesus along with support from family and friends to make the changes that will bring us joy throughout our lives.
You can let your actions be proof that you are following Jesus
This story about Zacchaeus changing his actions following his day spent with Jesus reminds me of the song This Little Light of Mine. We teach our kids to let their light shine, sharing the light of Jesus with the world. The story of Zacchaeus changing his actions once he chose to follow Jesus is a great opportunity to talk about what following Jesus really looks like. It is a huge responsibility to follow Jesus. It means making the commitment to use your feet, your hands, your heart like he used his. To follow Jesus, you will have to read about him, talk about what actions he took, what he taught and work hard to follow. Of course, this is not easy and will probably often lead back to life lesson #2 – Jesus wants to spend time with you even when you mess up! Let your kids know that this is a process that takes a lifetime of small steps and that you plan to work right alongside them as your family grows together in your knowledge of and love for Jesus.