FIRST WE GIVE OF OURSELVES
Growth in Giving Gathering Bible Study
1He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." 8Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." 9Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost." –Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus did not have a good reputation in Palestine. He was a tax collector and tax collectors were considered pariahs because they collaborated with the Roman authorities in collecting taxes from the people. The way the system was constructed encouraged tax collectors, without question, to collect as much money as they could from the people. The tax collector was paid with a percentage of what was collected. So the formula was simple, the more they could collect, the more they could keep. Zacchaeus, the tax collector, extorted and defrauded many people in his life and he was not a well-liked man. In the gospels, we hear repeatedly of tax collectors and sinners spoken of together in the same breath.
Into this scene walks Jesus who invites himself to Zacchaeus’ home for dinner. The action of Jesus is filled with grace and forgiveness which has immediate impact upon Zacchaeus. It was a life changing event as an encounter with God’s grace always is.
So how did Zacchaeus respond to this amazing change in events? He had been offered mercy and was determined to live in that life changing moment. Recognizing that his life was at the expense of his neighbor, Zacchaeus responds to Jesus’ invitation of grace in this way: “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” To this Jesus responds: “Today salvation has come to his house, because he too is a son of Abraham.” For Zacchaeus, life changed with an invitation of grace. What he considered important in life changed as well.
Questions to Ponder
- Does the reality of God’s grace in your life impact how you think about money, its importance and place in your life? If so, how?
- Zacchaeus responded to this grace filled encounter with Jesus with an expression of generosity. How would centering one’s giving on God and the gift of grace, rather than on things and issues, impact a sense of generosity and the desire to grow in giving?