Have you done that before? Tried to find someone, like I did, only to be blinded by the cunning guy standing right in front of me, blocking the view of who I really wanted to see.
There was a man in Jesus' time, described in Luke's gospel, as a 'short man,' who was reportedly despised by those who knew him, as he was a tax collector. His name? Zacchaeus. He climbed up in a tree, so he could see above the crowd and perhaps so he wouldn't be seen. The 'IRS' of the time were generally thought to be thieves and swindlers. No one, of good reputation, wanted to associate with them.
Don't mistake associating with so called 'bad company' with becoming 'bad,' or 'like them.' Jesus didn't confuse the two. He knew exactly what He was doing when He innitiated a friendship with Zacchaeus. In fact, Jesus called him by his given name, knowing the true meaning of the name 'Zacchaeus.' Righteous. Jesus saw past the cunning and deception to what others couldn't see.
In truth, Jesus purposely looked past the screw ups and wrong intentions of this man. He chose, instead, to see righteousness. He knew that given the opportunity, He, Jesus, through the power of His Holy Spirit, would bring transformation to this man's character.
We have been called to do the same. No, not to transform others, that's not our job. What we have been called to do is to see past that which we consider wrong, distasteful, below us, you name it. We have thought it, at one time or another, about someone or another. Judging another's character is also not our job. Loving, exhorting, encouraging, admonishing, yes, those are the things we are called to do, by the power of the Holy Spirit. These are the clear directives from the bible on how to draw out true character, transformed character.
The next time you are having difficulty finding who you want to see, consider how you might look past the outward appearance in order to draw out the inward character. By the way, the fox in the picture, who has a green hat on, as if he may be envious or deceptive, he's a character from the movie, Pinnochio. His name is 'Honest John.'
(Parts adapted from Pastor John Clark's sermon, 'Accepted.')