Jesus scandalized the respectable people of His time by eating with “publicans and sinners” and treating them like friends.  He even went so far as to call Matthew, a publican, to be one of His disciples.  That was like adding insult to injury.  Publicans were notoriously dishonest.  Zacchaeus, who also was a publican, admitted quite frankly that he had feathered his nest by extortion, but when he became a Christian he returned his ill-gotten gains with interest.  Apparently Matthew had been more honest than Zacchaeus.  At least there is no evidence to indicate that he had grown rich at his occupation.  He was in comfortable circumstances, however…. When Jesus saw Matthew “sitting at the receipt of custom,” He said to him,  “Follow me,” and “he arose and followed Him.”…

When Jesus called him, Matthew had to make an important and difficult choice, a choice between economic security and commitment to Christ.  He chose the latter.  It was a dooms-day choice for Matthew, because the whole of his future hinged upon it.  It is an illustration of what Emerson meant when he said that “every day is doom’s day,”  because the choices we make every day determine our destiny.  Matthew’s choice was not an easy one; not nearly so easy as the brief record suggests.  It never is easy to risk security for principle or comfort for loyalty to Christ.

We all want to be secure, free from want and free from fear.  Within certain limits security is a legitimate aspiration.  To be secure means to be safe, assured, certain, “guarded from danger.” … We are increasingly security minded, and social security has become a contemporary passion.  We want to be secure from the cradle to the grave.  You want to be secure and I want to be secure.

What troubles me is the fact that we are making security into an absolute before which all other values make obeisance.  All manner of crimes are committed and justified in the name of security.  Wars are fought and strikes are called in the name of security.  Perjury and murder are committed in the name of security.  Atom bombs and hydrogen bombs are created and justified in the name of security…

Love and truth, the absolutes of God, have become altogether relative to security.

When Matthew deserted the “receipt of custom” to follow Jesus, he made a vital judgment of values.  While he was a publican, truth and love were sacrificed on the altar of security.  When he became a follower of Jesus, security surrendered its right to rule his life.  He offered his life to a new absolute to which he gave uncompromising allegiance.  Henceforth, security became secondary, truth and love primary.  He put first things first and ceased giving first-rate powers to a second-rate project.  His whole life was changed.

Harold B. Walker


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