God changes hearts. He just does. I am living proof of this. He gave me a heart of flesh for my heart of stone. That is how He works. He starts on the inside and moves outward.
Romans 10: 9-10 says, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved."
Heart. That is where change happens, where belief happens. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have been thinking about how Jesus lived and interacted with people, about how He chose to help. And, I have wondered what Jesus would do now, what Jesus would do when faced with the things I see before me. Jesus does not fit into a nice little box. He cannot be pegged. He cannot be generalized. Why? I think it is because He saw people. He saw people from the inside out. He did not see lepers and thieves and prostitutes and officials. He saw hearts. When Jesus saves, He doesn't take people out of the sin. Rather, He takes the sin out of the people. There is a difference.
When you take people out of the sin, nothing happens on the inside of them. They just learn to live in a trouble-free bubble...if such a thing existed. But, when you take the sin out of the people, their hearts are changed. They see the world differently. Just ask Zacchaeus.
"Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, He looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name, "Zacchaeus!" He said. "Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today." Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. "He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner," they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, "I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!" Jesus responded, "Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost." ~ Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus was changed from the inside out. His heart changed first. He had an encounter with the Savior of the world, and He was forever changed. Jesus never asked him to give money away or make amends with those he cheated. Jesus didn't have to ask. Jesus cares about our hearts, and when our hearts are after Him, our outside reflects that. Jesus is far more interested in taking the slums out of people because then the people will walk right out of the slums.
"The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." ~ 1 Samuel 16:7b