He may have been a wee little man, but he was the kingpin of the Jericho tax cartel. He was a filthy rich little guy, this Zacchaeus.
But when he met Jesus, everything changed — not only his heart, but his hands. The same fingers that once reached to extort filthy lucre, now extended with generosity to the poor, and to pay back fourfold anyone he’d defrauded (Luke 19:8).
Sign of a New Soul
It’s only a few verses earlier in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus encountered another wealthy man, who we call “the rich young ruler.” His great possessions were the barrier to him following Jesus. Veteran pastor Kent Hughes, who served nearly thirty years at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, says the contrast is unmistakable: How we handle our money has everything to do with how we orient on Jesus. The rich young ruler chose his wealth over Jesus, but for Zacchaeus, meeting the Messiah loosed his hold on his material possessions.
There’s a very intentional theology of generosity in the Gospel of Luke in particular, and the point, as Hughes captures it, is generosity is a sign of a regenerate soul.
“There is no such thing as a Christian scrooge,” he says. “We may know some scrooges who claim to be Christians, but I don’t think you can claim to really know Christ and be a stingy person.” The gospel opens our soul — and with it, our hands.
“Generosity is a sign of a regenerate sou”.
Written by by David Mathis
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