From Riches to Rags

Proverbs 28:6 

Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich. (NLT)

There was once a vertically challenged tax collector who climbed into a tree to see over the heads of the crowd when a famous itinerant Teacher came to town. The gentleman in question was reasonably wealthy, but should not have been. Why not? Because he was a civil servant. He gained his wealth not through fair wages but by cheating the taxpayers of the town. Did he feel any discomfort or remorse about the way in which he accumulated his riches? Possibly not, but something drew him to a Teacher with no visible wealth, just a wealth of wisdom in His words.

The tax collector was called Zacchaeus. When the Teacher came to the tree he looked up and told Zacchaeus to come down out of the tree, and immediately invited Himself to dinner. The dinner party that followed was a life-changing event for Zacchaeus and resulted in him donating half of his wealth to the poor. The reminder probably went in the compensation he promised to anyone he had ever cheated. Scripture does not say that Zacchaeus was reduced to a life of poverty because of his encounter with the Teacher, but it seems likely. Not everyone who met Jesus was changed in this way, but everyone has a choice. Listen to the words of eternal life, or walk away (as one rich young man did).

This proverb is very similar to Proverbs 19:1, which also teaches that it is better to be poor and honest, than dishonest and a fool. The fact of the matter is that God does not measure wealth in worldly terms, but examines each human heart to discern whether wisdom is present and in what quantity. Zacchaeus appears to have been blinded by the shiny things of the world, but had sufficient wisdom to recognize the need for change in his life. His encounter with Jesus didn’t just change his life, but totally transformed it. I can’t imagine that anyone in the crowd saw that one coming.

Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good! (Psalm 53:1 NLT)
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About David

David is the son of Ken and father of Nick, who first introduced him to blogging. Ken is a retired Baptist Minister who continues to preach regularly, despite being in his eighties. Nick is training for full time Baptist ministry after several years serving as a youth pastor. Somehow the being a preacher thing skipped a generation with David. Although half Scottish David grew up in England and in the Channel Island of Guernsey. He served in the British Merchant Navy after leaving school, and did not attend University until he was twenty-eight years old. By this time he was married to Marilyn and father to Nick, and Nick’s brother Michael. Another son (James) was born the day before the start of David’s final University examinations. Beth and John followed a few years later. The older boys are all married, and David and Marilyn have been presented with four grandsons to date. Beth has served with British Youth for Christ (YFC) for three years as member and then leader of the Nomad cage football team (Google it!) and has recently taken up a new post involving a new YFC ministry (watch this space). John, who is 17, is now the only one of our children still living at home. David and Marilyn met in 1973 and have been married since 1979. Marilyn is a trained nurse, who gave up nursing to be a full time mother, grandmother, and maker of cakes for pastors, youth pastors, and any church function that needs cakes. There is a rumour that she secretly reads David’s blogs. Family and church leave little time for hobbies, but David enjoys walking and cycling, and listening to music. He also dabbles with languages and is currently learning to speak Welsh. (By way of explanation the Welsh border is 11 miles from David's home, and his water bills arrive in both English and Welsh from Dŵr Cymru.) View all posts by David

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