July 10 I Saturday
“Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’” —Luke 19:9-10
Of all the people’s homes that He could have chosen to stay at in Jericho, Jesus chose Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector for Rome. Zacchaeus was not only despised for being a traitor to the Jews, but he made his wealth by corrupting the tax system. From Zacchaeus’s encounter with Jesus, his life was transformed. Zacchaeus tells everyone, “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” (Luke 19:8).
Could we imagine what it was like for the people that Zacchaeus cheated? What was it like when they sat down and Zacchaeus explained and apologized for how he had been corrupt in his business dealings, how he had mistreated them and taken advantage of them? What was it like for those people to hear that Zacchaeus would pay back four times the amount? These people must have looked at Zacchaeus with their jaws opened, then asking, “Why? After all this time, why are you doing this thing?” Zacchaeus would explain, “Do you remember the day when Jesus came to stay at my house? On that day, I started to realize that life is not about money or accumulating more, but about Christ, His kingdom and His desires. When Jesus came into my life, all of a sudden, I was given a desire to share with others and to live generously.”
In the Old Testament, there were all kinds of laws to cultivate generosity within God’s people: tithing, offering, gleaning laws that made provisions for the poor and lending laws not to take advantage of people. These mandated a discipline towards sharing. But, when Christ came into Zacchaeus’s life, Zacchaeus went beyond those Old Testament laws, because Christ is the fulfillment of the law.
There is joy we experience when Christ is at the heart of our giving. The Old Testament law required generosity, but Jesus empowers it, animates it and brings it to life. Flowing from his being with Christ, Zacchaeus experienced extravagant grace, which resulted in extravagant generosity towards the needs of others.
Reflect for a moment whether our giving is more out of a sense of duty, law-based generosity or an expression of our worship that comes out of our being with Him. Paul tells us, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). When we meet Christ, money will lose its power over our life, and we become cheerfully generous towards the needs of others.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your extravagant grace upon my life. Forgive me for the times when I hoarded for myself when I could have given some towards the needs of others. May my generosity be a reflection of Your grace in my life.