“Lost” Causes

11.24.23 Devo Image

“Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.”—Luke 5:27–28 (NIV)

There’s a joke that goes like this: A Sunday school teacher asked her class of 8-year-olds, “What waddles on the land, paddles in the water, and quacks?” A few moments pass and then one girl hesitantly raises her hand and says, “Well, it sounds like a duck, but I know the right answer must be Jesus!” In case you missed it, the humor is in the fact that Jesus is always the right answer regardless of the question. 

Now, jokes aside, Jesus actually is the answer when it comes to how we’re to live our lives. If there’s any question about what we should be saying or doing with ourselves, we find the answer in the life of Jesus, especially when it comes to our attitude and interaction towards those who are “lost,” which is the condition of being far from God. And fewer people could have seemed farther from God than the man Jesus approaches and invites to follow Him here in this passage. 

The name given to us here is Levi, but he’s also known as Matthew, who would eventually write the Gospel that bears his name. But here’s where his journey with Jesus begins, as he’s sitting at his tax booth. Now, being a tax collector has never been popular, but in it was a social stigma without parallel in this case. The Jews were being occupied and severely taxed by the idolatrous and hated Romans. So, what Matthew was doing, extracting taxes from his own countrymen for the Romans, was about as low as one could go. If anyone seemed “lost” in that day, it would have been Matthew. 

But this is the very person Jesus goes to. It was an ultimate “out of the box” moment, which is exactly what Jesus was constantly doing, cutting against the grain of all expectations, reaching into the darkest of corners, and investing Himself into what everyone else would consider “lost causes.” As amazing as this move was, what happens next amazes us even more . . . Matthew leaves everything and follows Jesus!

What do we learn from this? We learn that nobody is a lost cause in the Lord’s eyes. He doesn’t draw lines when it comes to who’s invited to leave their past to step into a new life with Him. Those who the world would write off are those Jesus wants to write into His story of salvation. “But what about . . .” Nope! “Yeah, but God can’t possibly want . . .” Nuh, uh! Jesus shows us there’s not a single soul He isn’t willing to reach out to and invite to follow Him. 

We can see where all this is heading because we know how we can be so unlike Jesus in this way. When it comes to certain people, we tend to see them as lost causes. We see a traitorous tax collector who’s a million miles from God instead of the empty heart that’s desperate to belong to the One who can fill their life with the purpose they’ve been missing their whole life. 

But when we see people as Jesus does, our attitude and interaction toward them will change. Our lives will align with what He wants for us, as well as those He puts in our path.  

Pause: What does Jesus “answer” for us when it comes to His interaction with Matthew?

Practice: Search your heart and ask yourself if your view of people needs to be adjusted? Be specific. If your outlook needs to change, think of ways you can do that. 

Pray: Lord, we want to thank You for showing us everything we need to know when it comes to how we’re to live and even how we’re to see others. Forgive us for considering some to be lost causes and remind us of how “lost” we were and how You reached us. Give us Your perspective for people, and use our lives to bring others closer to You. Amen.

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.