The Price of Neglect - The Warrior's Journey®

The Price of Neglect

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“When Jesus reached the spot (i.e. the tree which Zacchaeus had climbed), he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’  So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.  All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’  But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’” 

What if Jesus, hearing the grumblings of the people, had stopped in His tracks, turned away from Zacchaeus, and said, “I can’t soil Myself with sinners”? The immediate result would be that all those poor people who stood to benefit from Zacchaeus’ gifts would receive nothing.  And the many people whom Zacchaeus defrauded – who were probably among the grumblers – would not receive the fabulous return on their losses. The long-term results of Jesus’ neglect of Zacchaeus would be that he’d go on defrauding and would never share his wealth with the poor. 

There is a sort of insanity behind our neglect of sharing the Gospel with those we dislike. Our neglect will come back to hurt us. Just think of Jonah’s example. He hated the Assyrians because they had done such harm to his people. So when God called him to preach to the Assyrian city of Nineveh, he fled in the opposite direction. He would rather see God destroy that city, rather than redeem it. It never occurred to Jonah that, if he preached and the city turned to the LORD, its kings would cease their cruelty to Israel. In fact, they might even turn from being a curse to Israel and become a blessing instead. Indeed, Jonah did proclaim God’s word to the Ninevites, they did turn to God, and the result was a respite from their cruel policies. 

Zacchaeus and Nineveh are both success stories. But today, in our pursuit not to offend anyone, neglect in sharing the Gospel is the rule rather than the exception. This is particularly true in the military. Year after year, religious programs are restricted and under-funded.  Chaplains are cautioned not to “proselytize” and punished if they share the Gospel and offend someone in the process. Meanwhile, AAFES stores are stocked to the hilt with booze and pornography. Alternate Sunday morning activities are offered to Soldiers who are “non-religious.” And drunkenness is enabled with a program of designated drivers and efforts to bring sports bars closer to where the Soldiers live. This neglect is going to cost us dearly. One general lamented, “No one agent so much obstructs this army as the degrading vice of drunkenness. Total abstinence would be worth 50,000 men to the Armies of the United States” (General George McClelland). 


  • Do you have enemies within your own unit, people who cause you pain? 
  • Isn’t it better to turn our enemies into our friends, rather than hurt them? 
  • Let’s seek the redemption of our enemies by sharing the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. By doing so, we obey Christ and help redeem others. 

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