When Jesus called Matthew the tax collector to be his disciple, he expressed a profound faith in a person’s ability to change. Tax collectors in Jesus’ day were political traitors, notorious crooks, and complete outcasts in respectable circles. Nonetheless, Jesus was a constant friend to them and even called one to be among his apostles. After Matthew became a follower of Christ, he wrote the gospel of Matthew—the most widely read book in the world. He used the same skill and pen he had used in his ledger books to write the story of Christ.
Matthew is a good example of the change Christ can make in a person.
Before Christ can change someone, he must acknowledge his sin and repent of it. When Henry Thoreau lay dying in his home, a relentlessly pious neighbor paid a bedside call and asked primly, “Henry, have you made your peace with God?” Thoreau whispered, “We never quarreled.”
There may be a person here and there who has never quarreled with God, but I know there has never been a person who did not ignore God. That is the greatest of all sins. When any person repents and puts his faith in Christ, his life can be wonderfully changed.
They say that Longfellow could take a worthless sheet of paper, write a poem on it, and make it worth $6,000—that is genius. Rockefeller could sign his name on a piece of paper and make it worth millions—that is capital. A machinist can take a piece of metal worth $5 and make a tool worth $50—that is skill. An artist can take a 50-cent piece of canvas, paint a picture on it, and make it worth $1,000—that is art. But God can take a despised tax collector, wash him in the blood of Christ, put his Spirit in him, and make him a blessing to humanity—that is salvation. What Christ did for Matthew, he can do for you.