BECAUSE HE IS good and kind, God doesn’t reveal a problem without providing a solution. In other words, no diagnosis without a cure as well. So, when He warns us about the danger of riches, He presents a way we can resist the tug of money.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Acknowledging we need things like food, shelter and clothing, He goes on in verse 33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
That sounds all good and spiritual, but how—practically speaking—can we do that? By pursuing a personal encounter with Jesus. Not mere head knowledge about Him, but heart connection with Him. Like Zacchaeus.
The “wee little man,” according to the old Sunday school song, was a wealthy tax collector. As such, he would have been despised by the other Israelites for having “sold them out,” collecting money from them on behalf of the Roman overlords (and a tad extra for himself). Clearly, money mattered more than anything to him.
But he was curious about Jesus; hence his climbing up into a sycamore tree to get a closer look at Him when He came by. The account in Luke 19 tells how Jesus saw him, and invited Himself to his home for a meal, scandalizing the religious elite.
And look what happened. During Jesus’s visit, Zacchaeus stood and told Him, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold” (verse 8).
Think about that. Zacchaeus “knew” about Jesus from a distance. But within probably only an hour or two of His intimate presence, the one-time money chaser was divesting himself of half his assets! Zacchaeus’s response reminds me of the old worship song, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Jesus’s answer to the pull of materialism? More of Him. As Mylon LeFevre sang in the beautiful “More,” “Break my heart and change my mind. Cut me loose from ties that bind. Lead me as I follow You. Give me strength to follow through.”
More can lead to less.