Irish poet Oscar Wilde said, “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.” His comment was made tongue-in-cheek; he lived only to age forty-six, so he never truly was “old.” Wilde fully understood that life is not about money.
Money is temporary; it comes and it goes. So life must be about more than money and what it can buy. Jesus challenged the people of His generation—rich and poor alike—to a recalibrated value system. In Luke 12:15, Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” In our culture, where there’s an abiding focus on more and newer and better, there’s something to be said both for contentment and for perspective about how we view money and possessions.
Upon meeting Jesus, a rich young ruler went away sad because he had many possessions he didn’t want to give up (see Luke 18:18–25), but Zacchaeus the tax collector gave away much of what he’d spent his life acquiring (Luke 19:8). The difference is embracing the heart of Christ. In His grace, we can find a healthy perspective on the things we possess—so they don’t become the things that have us.
What can’t you live without? Why? Is it something that lasts forever, or just for a moment?
Listen to “God and Money” at
Zacchaeus, as a chief tax collector, was a wealthy man (Luke 19:2). In the New Testament, tax collectors were considered to be “sinners” (v. 7) and were largely disliked by society because many of them gained their wealth by cheating others. His offer to give half his possessions to the poor and repay those he’d cheated four times what he’d taken (v. 8) demonstrated his heart had truly changed. It showed what he was willing to give up for Jesus. Christ in turn honored Zacchaeus in front of the crowd by labeling him a “son of Abraham,” declaring salvation over him and his household (v. 9). Zacchaeus was lost, but he was sought out and saved by the Son of Man (v. 10).