This is the third in a three part series on wealth and relationship with God. In the first part, we looked at the story of the rich young ruler. He was self-reliant, self-righteous and saddened at the prospect of parting with his wealth and following Jesus. In the second piece we looked at Zacchaeus, the tax collector, who responded joyfully to Jesus’ invitation to stay with him and offered, without prompting, to give half his wealth to the poor and payback four times what he took by fraud from people.
We have considered that God knows our hearts, and His knowledge of the rich young ruler and of Zacchaeus made a difference in how Jesus related to them. We have considered that our relationship with God does not depend on how many commandments we keep, how much we give to the poor or what we can do to earn God’s favor. We can’t be good enough, and we can’t do enough to earn God’s favor.
God’s favor is freely given to those who freely and genuinely receive Him. Eternal life isn’t earned; it is wholeheartedly received.
With the third story, we face some sobering truth. The stakes are high. The story of Ananias and Sapphira shows us that our heart’s condition is not only important, it is ultimately a matter of life and death. Pretense leads to death; while genuineness of heart leads to life.
In the first installment of this three part series on wealth and relationship with God, we looked at the rich young ruler who was self-reliant and reacted with sadness at the prospect of being asked to sell all he had to give to the poor and to follow Jesus. We aren’t told what the rich young ruler does in response to Jesus’ challenge. What would you do?
I’m afraid I don’t truly know the answer to that question, if I am being honest with myself. It’s not as if Jesus has confronted me with that question in person. If Jesus is talking to me and telling me to do the same, I am not hearing His voice. Has He challenged me to do that same thing and I have ignored Him or refused to listen?
These are questions we can’t just brush aside or take lightly if we want to follow Jesus. A servant cannot serve two masters; we cannot serve both God and money at the same time. One must yield to one or the other. In this second part in the series on wealth and relationship with God, we will look at the more heart-warming story of Zacchaeus the tax collector.
In reading through the Gospel of Luke, the doctor, historian and traveling companion of Paul, two dialogues appear in chapters 18 and 19 about men of wealth. They are the stories of the Rich Young Ruler and Zacchaeus, the tax collector.
Both men are rich and are tied into the local power structure. They both seek out Jesus and encounter Him, but one turns away, saddened because of his wealth, while the other receives Jesus joyfully. And, then there is the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They had become part of the early church, but wealth became their undoing.
All three stories deal with wealth and possessions and relationships with God. And more importantly, they deal with the heart. We will review each story in this three part series on wealth and relationship to God.