Jesus & {Your?} His Money: Part 3 - Money as Evidence of Conversion

September 8, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

This is the third in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 9). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude toward the use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money.

In our first two weeks of considering what Jesus teaches about money and wealth we saw that Jesus warns about the power money holds as a satisfying treasure. As such, money becomes poisonous to our spiritual well being by cultivating our prideful self-reliance (“it’s my money!”) and a delight in this lesser pleasure. Perhaps, after this initial survey, you may be wondering if Jesus has any positive perspectives on money. Let’s take a couple of weeks to consider how Jesus understands money as a tool to maximize our delight in God as our superior treasure.

Last week we looked at the story of the rich young ruler walking away from Christ sorrowful. His sorrow was evidence that his heart was poisoned by the power money has as a satisfying treasure. Let’s look at another story of a rich man in the gospels: Zacchaeus. Many of us are familiar with this popular Sunday school story of a “wee little man” in Luke 19:1-10. Let me contrast Jesus’ concluding remarks to these two encounters with rich men.

In Matthew 19:23, in response to the sorrow of the rich young ruler, Jesus says, “Only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In Luke 19:9, in response to Zacchaeus’ commitment to financial restoration of wrongs, Jesus says, “Today salvation has come to this house.”

What Jesus said was difficult (and the disciples understood to be impossible) occurred with Zacchaeus. How did this happen? How is Zacchaeus different from the rich young ruler? The outward, observable difference is that the rich young ruler did nothing different with his money while Zacchaeus became willing to give away much of his wealth.

Knowing the heart realities that Jesus taught, we know that giving money to the poor doesn’t “save” someone. So why does Jesus say salvation has come to Zacchaeus’ home when Zacchaeus declares he will give half of his possessions to the poor? Zacchaeus’ new attitude toward money was evidence that his heart was redeemed from the poisonous, lesser treasure of money. For Jesus, money is a tool to make known that your heart has found a greater, more satisfying treasure, God himself. Money can be, and should be, used as evidence of conversion.

Think about how John the Baptist responds to the question, “What then shall we do?” (Lk. 3:10). This question itself was in response to John’s call to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (3:8). The people were asking what kind of fruit is evidence of repentance. How does John respond? Every example has to do with money or possessions. Share your tunics. Do not collect more taxes than authorized. Do not extort money. A changed heart (repentance) will have a changed attitude toward money because the heart has a new treasure.

How about you? Does your attitude toward money reveal your heart has found a different, superior treasure? Or do you cling to your money as the source of your security and pleasure? Jesus can set you free from this poisonous perspective on money. Jesus wants us to use money as a tool to make known that our hearts have found a superior treasure.

More next week.



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