18 Oct 2015

Gospel Generosity 1 – The Story of a Little Man


Luke 19:1-10 Gospel Generosity 1 - The Story of a Little Man Pastor Jason Lim 18 October 2015 "Live Sufficiently, Give Extravagantly" JD Greer The Gospel transforms a Grabbing man into a Giving man. The new creation in Jesus is freed from the worship of money, to worship God with money. Learn a Big Lesson from this Story of a little man! Slides Audio **Right Click to Do

Luke 19:1-10
Gospel Generosity 1 - The Story of a Little Man
Pastor Jason Lim
18 October 2015

"Live Sufficiently, Give Extravagantly"

JD Greer

The Gospel transforms a Grabbing man into a Giving man.The new creation in Jesus is freed from the worship of money, to worship God with money.Learn a Big Lesson from this Story of a little man! Slides Audio

Sermon Transcript

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Now, this morning we're going to look at a subject that is apart from the book of Hebrews we're taking a short little mini break from the book of Hebrews as we reached the midway point in Hebrews. But we are going to look today at the subject of Gospel generosity.

Now why do we talk about Gospel generosity?   Well, I think there are two reasons I want to raise this. Our first is that I think this is a necessary mindset for us to possess when we go to Punggol.  There is no way we can make an impact in Punggol if we are self-centered and inward looking. So this generosity that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings is absolutely necessary for us to serve the multitudes in Punggol. Number two, a second reason is because of the financial status of our church, as you have already known through the announcements and write ups over the past weeks, that there is an inadequate income or inadequate offering to match the expenses and as a result of that I think this is a good opportunity, not so much to tackle the need problem. I believe God will always provide. But more importantly is to tackle the heart problems the areas of discipleship we need to grow into. So I do pray that as we look into God's Word, the Gospel would so penetrate our hearts that it will flow into radical generosity that pleases the Lord. So that's the two reasons for looking into this subject.

Well I'm not going to sort of give you a verse by verse, teaching from the epistle this morning. But we are going look at a story, and look verse by verse into a story and we're going to look at the story of a little man that wonderfully teaches us Gospel generosity. Who is this little man?

Luke 19 tells us,

“He (that is) Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up the into a sycamore tree to see him, for he (that is Jesus) was about to pass that way. And when 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.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully, and when they saw it, they all grumbled. “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”  And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord,  “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.  And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold”.   And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

The story of a little man.

There is this fitness center that offered $1000 to anyone who could prove that he is stronger than the owner himself and this is how it works. The owner would get half an orange and he will squeeze that orange until it is as dry as possible and he will challenge if there is anyone out there who is was able to squeeze one more drop of juice from this orange he will take the money. So, of course everybody try, won't you? I would.  So everybody came and tried it and they were the people who train in the gym everyday, they were the professional wrestlers, they were the bodybuilders, big hunks and bulky guys.   But the amazing thing is no one is stronger than the owner of the fitness center. No one could squeeze one more drop out.  When everybody has tried and then there's this scrawny, skinny little fellow. He comes up the stage and people start to snigger and to laugh, “huh, huh look at the fella sampo (colloquial for skinny) also want to try.”

And so they laughed and they jeered him. But when he got up, he very calmly, very coolly took that orange gave it a tight squeeze and under the glistening light, two drops came out from the orange.   The laughter turned to a hushed silence, their jaws dropped to the floor. They were all amazed.  Reluctantly, the owner of the fitness center had to give him a $1000.  But before he gave him, he asked him, “Sir, how come you are able to do this?  What do you work as?  Are you a bodybuilder or wrestle or what?” And the scrawny little man says,  “No, I work at the IRAS, tax department. And we squeeze people every day.”

Well, he is a professional squeezer and this morning we are going to look at a professional squeezer, his name is Zacchaeus and he is really good at squeezing money, that's for sure.

Zacchaeus is at tax collector. Now in those days, a tax collector works for the Roman Empire. Now, the Jews did not rule themselves, the Roman Empire had conquered then subjugated them, and therefore make them pay taxes to the Roman emperor and so the Roman Empire will franchise out tax responsibilities to people who could pay whatever the Roman Empire asked.  So tax collectors, therefore, would charge the people, their own people a certain amount of money to give to the Roman Empire and on top of that charge even more to line their own pockets. So the tax collectors in those days were not glamorous in their jobs, they were despised, they were hated, they were people who were seen as traitors. They were seen as scums. Therefore, in the Bible when you read of tax collectors in the King James publicans they are named together with sinners. Sinners and publicans became a common saying.

They were ranked together with prostitutes, the robbers, the thieves and that was Zacchaeus occupation.  And you must realize Zacchaeus really excelled in his job. He is the master squeezer, I mean, the Bible say he's that he's the chief he is the tua tow (colloquial for chief), he is the top of the food chain, top of the pyramid guy. He is the director of taxation in Jericho.

Now Jericho, by the way is a very busy and prosperous city. It is said that in those days there were three regional tax centers in Israel. In the northern part, you have Capernaum, in the central part, you have Syria, and in the southern part you have Jericho. So this guy is quite a guy. The top dog in the regional tax center in Jericho.   How did he get there?   How did he become so rich and powerful?   Well I think he is a very clever, proactive guy with lots of initiative, but he probably also got his way up by some crooked means. Why do I say that?  I say that because later on, you read that he said to Jesus, “if I've defrauded anyone of anything. I restore it fourfold.”  So he knows, he has swindled his way, conned his way, somewhat to the top of the food chain and that's our friend, Zacchaeus this morning.

Zacchaeus however, is someone very interesting for us to learn from.  That's why Luke tells us, “Behold look, look at this guy, look at this man, what a dramatic event is going to happen to him. There are great lessons, big lessons to learn from this little guy.  And we know that somehow also because of his name, he's called Zacchaeus, is significant. You say, why?  Because there are many if you read the Bible, there are many tax collectors mentioned in the Bible.  I mean, Jesus ate with the tax collectors. But throughout the whole Bible, there are only two tax collectors who have ever been named.

Who are they?   Zacchaeus and the other Matthew, who is an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is also, called Levi.  Now church history tells us that Zacchaeus subsequently became a very prominent figure in the early church, he might even become a pastor. We do not know, but no doubt Luke here, mentions his, mentions his name because he's probably a very important person in the early church. So this is a remarkable guy from the chief tax collector to becoming one of the prominent figures in the early church and we going to the learn from him life, about Gospel generosity.

So the story starts like this.  Zacchaeus was seeking to see who Jesus was.  He must have heard of Jesus, isn't it?  I mean Jesus name was loud and clear throughout Israel. Jesus had been serving, ministering publicly for three years already. He must have heard of how Jesus went about healing the sick, even raising the dead.  He must have heard of Jesus performing signs and wonders, he must have heard of how Jesus was preaching and teaching the kingdom of God is at hand, repent, repent he must have heard that Jesus has the power to forgive sins. So he's excited, he's excited, particularly, particularly because just recently in a nearby town called Bethany he heard of Lazarus, who was dead for four days, rise again because of Jesus.  Just earlier in chapter 18, he heard about how blind Bartimaeus regain his sight, and so he knew Jesus is coming to town and he must see Jesus. See, for all his life Zacchaeus had no one to help him with his spiritual life.  He is a scum, according to the Jews. He is rejected and isolated and cut off. He could not go to the temple to worship God. He was not allowed to.   So he schemed and conned his way up to the top. He knows he is probably full of sin, but no one could help him, and indeed no one would help him. He's a desperate man.  He is a desperate man and I think all that guilt, all that sin must have haunted his life.

You know I think, Zacchaeus when he was born, his parents were probably reasonably good and maybe pious parents. You say, how you know that?  Because the parents gave him a good name Zacchaeus. Do you know what's the meaning of Zacchaeus?   For the meaning of the word “Zacchaeus” means “righteous or pure”.  So they give birth to young baby, that is like a baby outside there in the mother's corner. I can see all them just treasuring their babies, young, pure, young righteous. I.. we give you this name because we hope you a pure and righteous life, we are going to teach you the Bible, we are going to teach you the Torah, we are going to bring you to the temple the Pharisees will teach you, you'll be taught the Word of God, so that you will live a right life.  But who is to know when he grows up he decides to be a publican, he decides to turn against his own people, work for the Roman Empire, maybe with some swindling methods line his own pockets.

So here is this man who must have thought his life is blown.  I'm a sinner and the priest won't help him help me, no one is going to help.  But he heard Jesus is coming and he heard how Jesus is different from all the religious leaders.  He is not like them who cast us away, he eats with us, he eats with my kakis.  He eats with sinners and publicans he may help me, and so I must see him.  And that drove Zacchaeus to anticipating the arrival of Jesus.

So he prepares himself to go out in the streets to meet the Lord. But then, the Bible tells us on account of the crowd he could not because he is Mr Kateh (colloquial for short).  He is Mr Danny DeVito, you know, the shorter one and I can't see, I can't see Jesus can you all please bend down, the crowd wouldn't bend down.   The crowd hated him.  Zacchaeus, go away!   So I can imagine Mr Zacchaeus, is always jumping, bouncing up and down trying to catch a glimpse but it didn't work so well. So being the proactive guy who takes initiative, he runs in front anticipates the journey of Jesus, gets up the sycamore tree to get a vantage point, so that he could get a glimpse of Jesus Christ. I don't think he knows what's going to happen. I mean he just wants to see Jesus, but he's up there, so maybe he just will be satisfied with a look.  That's maybe what he wanted.  But Jesus came, pass by exactly the route that Zacchaeus had predicted. And Jesus looked up, I mean, amazing.  Jesus had plenty of people to look around him, but he decided to look up, did not only looked up even knew his name and said, “Zacchaeus”.   Wow, how could Jesus know about Zacchaeus?   Zacchaeus heard about Jesus, but did Jesus hear about Zacchaeus.   Zacchaeus sought Jesus, but we need to realize that Jesus is also seeking Zacchaeus. You say, how do you know that, Pastor?  Because Jesus Himself gave a commentary of this event, he says, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus was there not by chance, not by accident, but by intention to look out for Zacchaeus, the man every body rejected, Jesus came for him.   To Zacchaeus, Jesus calls, and I think Zacchaeus must be super happy. Zacchaeus must be excited, you know I'm, Zacchaeus when he was growing up in school, nobody gives him a chance.  Every time teacher asked for volunteer us or ask for something like that Zacchaeus can't be seen he's buried beneath all the other tall guys.  But I can feel for him because I'm also quite short is quite sad sometimes to be not seen but Zacchaeus is that guy who was always probably forgotten, but Jesus here highlight and says “Zacchaeus, I'm here for you” and says, “come down quickly, I must stay at your house.”  Oh, I think Zacchaeus must be must be so excited his heart is pounding and says, “wow, no one even comes to my house but Jesus is coming to my house”, so he is so excited.  He, he rushes down and is so happy to receive Jesus, but then you know, there are always people who will grumble and say, “Ha! How could Jesus stay with a sinner like this.”  You see, they didn't understand the grace of God in Jesus Christ, they were a people who were proud of themselves with their own self righteousness, which by the way, in the eyes of God is absolutely rubbish, but he was so proud of themselves that he couldn't figure that Jesus came exactly to seek and save that which is lost.   To save actually that which is the worst, so they grumble, but Zacchaeus didn't mind.  Zacchaeus was so happy and received Jesus joyfully. So here we are Jesus and Zacchaeus in Zacchaeus’s palatial home, probably.

The Bible doesn't go on to tell us what they ate, what they did or exactly what they said, but allow me to suggest to you, probably I won't, I don't think will be far off for me to suggest to you that Jesus and Zacchaeus probably talked about eternal life, about the kingdom of heaven, about sin and repentance and the Lamb of God that is going to be slain for the sin of the world.   No doubt Jesus would have asked deep questions to draw out the needs and the helplessness in Zacchaeus's heart and Jesus would then share with him, the Gospel, the good news that the son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost. No doubt, I think Jesus would have told him that in about 10 days time, he would go to the cross and be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  And you can imagine those conversations, those evangelistic dialogs to go deep into the night and suddenly in the candlelight, there will be tears that flow from Zacchaeus' eyes down his cheeks, and he would suddenly, like lightning, have a flash of enlightenment and understanding and finally see that indeed Jesus is the Lamb of God that can take away his sins. We do not know the time but we know it did happen because Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.”

Now this son of Abraham, we looked at last Sunday.  Amazingly, and we realize that the son of Abraham is not about physical descent, it's about spiritual faith, that we are all of Abraham, and that we all believe in the Messiah, the Savior and so Jesus says, salvation has come to this house and Zacchaeus, has believed.   Conversion has taken place. There's now new life, he's a new creation. You say, how do you know, he is a new creation?  There is evidence of it.  In fact, very dramatic evidence of Zacchaeus’s conversion.  You see, Zacchaeus, he stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor and if I defrauded, cheated anyone of anything, I will restore it fourfold”, I mean, there is generosity and there is restitution at the very same time.   He gives half his goods. That's a lot, that's a lot, you say, why do we give all?   I, I suspect he don't give all, because the other half is to repay. I mean, he probably cheated quite a few people and he has repay.

In a Jewish law, when you cheat someone, you have to pay back not just what you cheated but more. You say, how much more?  Well, if it's ordinary cheating, OK ..there is different categories… if it is ordinary cheating and you volunteer that you cheated, alright, you pay back 20% more. So, if I cheated you of $100 and I volunteered information, I cheated you, I'm sorry I'm going to give your hundred and twenty dollars. That's the norm.  Now, there’s extraordinary circumstances where you are caught and you steal some special things then, you have to pay back 400%.  So, I took one sheep, stole it violently, I'm going to repay … repay you with five sheep.  But usually it's 20%.

Zacchaeus didn't quibble with 20 or 100 or 400.   He says, “If I owe anyone anything, even though I volunteer even though I confess to it, I'm going to give everyone 400% more.”  Something has happened to this guy, don't you think?   He repays and not only repays he goes the extra mile to give to the poor.  From the chief extortionist, he became the chief philanthropist of Jericho.  I think this guy is nuts, you must be thinking.  I can imagine the very next day he gathers his agents, I mean, he is the chief right so he must have a lot of tax agents under him. He gathers his agents and everyone is expecting, wah Mr. Zacchaeus is going to teach us how to get more money. The new taxation scheme in Jericho, we're going to be rich, but Zacchaeus says,  “Ladies and gentlemen go and find out how many people we have cheated over the years and pay them back four times”.

“Towkay, luh OK boh?  (Colloquial means boss, are you alright?) Towkay, we are supposed to get money from them not give money from them”.  Yes, I know, but do what I told you, if we owe them anything pay them back four times”.  Siao liao, this towkay (colloquial means have you gone crazy?).” Then the secretary comes, and he asked the secretary, “Hey Jane, how much money do I have?”  “Sir, you have $50 million. Very good, Jane.  You take 25 and give to the charities in town”. “Boss, 25 million or $25?”  “25 million, Jane”.  “Boss, what's wrong with you?  We are here to make a living, tan jiak one (colloquial for making a living), why you give money, what's wrong?” “Now guys, you don't understand.  Yesterday, Jesus came to my house and told me about what He is going to do.   He told me about my life. He told me he came to save me.  He is my Lord, I don't want to live my old life anymore. I'm a new creation in Jesus Christ. So go, pay back those we have cheated and give to those who have”.

When you come into a genuine encounter with Jesus, your life must change. When the Gospel enters a man's heart, it must transform that heart.   And one of the things that will be change in your life, that is visible and evident, is the heart of generosity.

Kent Hughes, he says, “Generosity is a sign of a regenerate soul”. A man who is born again, will exhibit generosity, not everyone exhibited to the same degree, but when you come to Christ, there should be a difference in your life, as compared to what you were in the past. Now, if there is never any change, really then you have to question yourself, do you have regeneration in your soul?   And when Zacchaeus comes in touch with Jesus, the grabber becomes the giver. He (Kent Hughes) goes on to say, “There is no such thing as a Christian scrooge”.  It doesn't make sense for a follower of Jesus Christ to be stingy.  For a Christian, a Christ follower to be stingy because Christ was never stingy.  “We may know some scrooges who claim to be Christians, but I don't think you can claim to really know Christ and be a stingy person, same fact. He says,  “The Gospel opens our soul and the Gospel, therefore opens our hands”.

Luther says, “the conversion of a man involves the conversion of the head, conversion of the heart and conversion of the pocket. It will loosen our hands, because when the Gospel goes deeper into our souls, it frees our fingers to loosen their grasp on our goods.”

But let me apply this principle of generosity not just to money and to goods but also to your time, to your efforts, to your life.  It’s not about meeting my wants but it's about giving to the others who have needs. There is a radical change in the way you look at yourself and possessions and things and people. That there's got to be a change and it is a powerful thing, don't you think?   The Gospel is so powerful. I.. I think this is so clear when you consider in Luke 18, just one chapter before, another rich guy came to Jesus, this guy is called the rich ruler. He came to Jesus and said, “Master, good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus said, “Well, you know the Scriptures you know the commandments.  Do not commit adultery, do not murder do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother, and the ruler immediately very quickly says I know all that and I've been doing all that, since I am young.  I'm a good guy, God. What else do I need to do, you must accept me. But Jesus knew exactly his problem and very very insightfully the Lord said to him, “One thing you still lack, young man. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor and you have treasure in heaven; Come, follow me.” I've done everything. Jesus says, “Alright, then give up all you have.” And the Bible tells us, “When he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.”  But he's going to lose his soul. He thought he could come to God by his own works, that never works. But now, we read of this man who comes to God in humility, in emptiness and grace came into Zacchaeus's life. The Gospel comes into Zacchaeus’s heart and now he says, “I give everything.”  I mean the first guy who thought religion could do it could not give. But this guy Zacchaeus who is touched by grace, willingly gives. It is the power of the Gospel that really flows through in generosity.

So, let me clarify brothers and sisters. Why would you want to be generous in your life, why?  I mean it is very important to understand motivation, reason why should we give to the poor. Why should we be generous? Let me tell you two reasons, why you shouldn't be generous and then tell you the one reason, you should be generous.

The first reason, why you should not be looking to for generosity is, don't be generous to earn God's love.  Don't do that. Don't try to buy God's favor.  Don't try to bribe his love. You know why, because that cheapens God.  Don't you think?   Oh, when I give God, God will love me more.  No, no, no, no. What do you have that is not from God, in the first place. You can't buy God's love.  Zacchaeus didn't think that oh, by giving Jesus would love me.  Other way around, Jesus loves me and is willing to give me his life now I want to give.   So, you don't give in order to buy God's love.  You have a low view of God, if you think so.  You can never out give God. All our giving is rooted in God’s giving to us in the first place.

And then the second reason why you shouldn't give, is to get rich. Now this is very problem in today's day and age.   In Christianity today, the prominent teaching in prosperity teaches is this, you know the principle of sowing and reaping.   Wah, very biblical 2 Corinthians 9, sowing reaping, biblical verse they use, but they tell you when you sow when you give to God, you're sowing some seeds.  You give first, later on, God will give you a lot of money. Now, this is a brilliant, actually a very wicked, but a very brilliant kind of a false teaching that actually milks members of money. I mean, those of you probably know the economy now not so good, invest in stocks or bonds also not so favorable so invest in church lah, give to church, I give this week thousand maybe three months later, God will give me like seed, you know, multiply 10,000 where got any bank give you this kind of return? Church have because pastor say so.  And then he say sowing and reaping sowing and reaping.

Now, if you give in order to get rich, you will get nothing. You say why? Because you are not giving to God.  You are giving to yourself. That is not generosity that is idolatry. You get that.  You are just worshiping money, using God to worship money. It's a scam. It's unbiblical.  It doesn't honor God. So if you want to get rich you want to give to church, you want to give to the poor, to get rich yourself, you're barking up the wrong tree absolutely. So why do we give?   You don't give to get God's love, you don't give to get rich. You give because you have been given Jesus Christ.

Zacchaeus gave, because of the Gospel.  He gave because of Jesus Christ. Now with this life-changing encounter with Jesus, he realizes what he has is nothing, is absolutely nothing, compared to what God in Jesus is given to him. I mean, he says, “Lord, Lord, I'm willing to be yours, Lord.  I'm no more my own. You are my Lord.”   No wonder he is so free in his giving. He realized he is God's and God is his, and what he used to treasure, what he used to live for, what he used to grab, it is now what he will use to serve his master, everything.

Radical generosity that flows from the radical Gospel.   You know there are songs that we sing for different people.  Uh, there's a song for Gideon, “Where is a Gideon” and so and so forth. Then, there's a song for Samuel, “Speak Lord, for thy servant hears”. I was trying to find a song for Zacchaeus. I can only think of the one from the Sunday school we little Zacchaeus, I don't know what how to sing that, but if you have been to Sunday school you know that, but I was thinking maybe another song may be suitable for Zacchaeus.

All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing you, Jesus,
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
you're my all,  your the best
you're my joy, my righteousness
and I love you. Lord!

I think Zacchaeus might have sung that song that very night, if he had these lyrics, it would fit.  No more about money, you are my Lord you would take care of my needs. This, this does not define me anymore. This is not, that I get my security, this is not where I get my joy, my hope it's in you, Jesus.

Radical generosity - let me ask a very practical question for you then, that you may want to ask me.  And that is pastor, then how much should I give.  Okay, I know your sermon is about money right?  So tell me, just tell the bottom line, how much should I give?  Come, straight to the point, please.  You love numbers right?  We all love numbers, and and the world has, and the church has given some numbers.  By the way I've read, okay, well, churches at large tell people 10%.  Agree?  Tithe. Now I'm not despising tithes.   Probably a good number to start off.  Probably good number too, be the base.   But that's not always the right mindset to have to lock our philosophy to lock our life based on a certain figure, because you see the Bible there is not such a artificial figure that is imposed on every single one.

For example, for uh.. Zacchaeus he had 50%.  Robert Murray McCheyne he says,

“The more you understand who Jesus is and what has done for you,
the more generous you become.  I fear that many hearing me, who now know they are not Christians, but they do not love to give.  To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart. An old heart would rather part with its lifeblood than its money.”

The issue is not so much about the amount, sometimes, is about the heart, the willingness.  So this Zacchaeus, he was willing to give more than what we have artificially set sometimes for ourselves. Now I'll come to that in a while further thoughts.  But I ask you today, right now based on what Robert Murray McCheyne has said, “What's your heart like this morning?  Would it be looking more like a new heart of generosity or the old heart that would rather part with its lifeblood than its money”.

One of the great tests to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith, is really generosity.   Extremely searching, see the rich young ruler failed that test right?  The rich young ruler thought its okay, but Jesus gave him the test and he failed miserably right there.  Jesus used this same test to expose the hypocrites.

Supposed to read with me in Matthew 23,  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin”, now I, I don't buy these things in the market but I suppose these things should be cheap stuff, mint, dill, cumin, just herbs and spices, not your steak and mutton or lamb chops.   Cheap stuffs so you…you, Pharisees you, scribes, you are excellent at keeping the five cent, ten cent, go chiam ji ka (colloquial for 5 cents and 10 cents) things very well but  then you neglected the weightier matters of the law, you pride yourself you are very meticulous in these small figures but you neglect justice and mercy and faithfulness.  You don’t serve the poor you don’t help them.

Jesus went on to be even more direct in verse 25 when he says, “you clean the outside of the cup and the plate,  you look so decent with all your financial tithing for small things, but inwardly you are full of greed and self indulgence.   You never had a new heart”.

Those who have a new heart, those who have a radical life-changing relationship with Jesus. Those who received the Gospel, they are not like this.   The Bible paints a absolutely different picture.  You you read this in Acts 2:44, it's a phenomenal verse. I'm still trying to get my head around the way they live. Its amazing. It was a time of intense difficulty, persecution, they lose their jobs, they lose the society for leaving Judaism and following Jesus, look at how they took care of one another.

“All who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings, distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”  Now this is, this is amazing.  This is amazing. Sell your condo, your bungalow, your HDB flat because the whole section of our church, the whole section of people today have nothing to eat.  Ya, selling it, we’re sharing it.  There is no 10%,  there’s no 50%.  Its all that they had.  You said why? Because the Gospel has entered their lives and it has transformed their hearts. Its different. Now, I’m not saying that Gospeliters today, you go and sell and then you pull the money and then you put them in the church and the church don’t know what to do with it.  No, no, no, that’s not the point, its about the heart. How about this verse, Ephesians 4:28, “let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need”.

Wow, the Ephesians, the Ephesians church is not made of nice guys, alright.  They are made up of thieves, there are thieves in the church, or at least there were people who were thieves.  And Paul says, “Now that you have received the Gospel, you who have been stealing in the past, don't steal anymore, go and work.” But that is not all Paul said.  He says, “Go and work so that you can give. You see, the world says I can steal all I want, so that I can get.   Doesn't matter if it's unscrupulous I can be a Zacchaeus. I just want to climb to the top of the ladder and would steal to get to the way I want myself to be.   The Gospels says don’t steal, work.  And not just work but work in order to give.

Gospel generosity - I think what Zacchaeus did that very day saying everything. I'll give to the poor and the recompense those who I have cheated must have sent shockwaves throughout Jericho.   Can you imagine Facebook page crazy King of the Tax Cartel gives all of his wealth away.  Can you imagine Twitter, “he gives 25 million”. Newspaper, channel news will all interview Zacchaeus and Zacchaeus will say, “of course, if you come to know Jesus, who gave his life for you, you would do the same. You know something about the name of Jesus that they you will be beautiful. He will be glorified, that there be anyone who is willing to give up all to follow the carpenter son, truly, this man must be the Son of God.  How are we going to make an impact in the world we live? How we going to go to Punggol and make an impact just by having a building there?   Wonderful the building will draw some attention. But what draws attention to God is going to be your lives. What is it about your life?  Radical generosity, because if we go that is all about me, myself and I, no impact.  Beautiful if we could live such radical lives that we will be like the city set on a hill, and when people see our good works, they glorify our father which is in heaven.  So my friends, I come back to the question I would ask you. What is your percentage? 10? 50? Like Zacchaeus? 100? Like the early church? Now I don’t want to give you a figure.  I don’t find the figure in the Bible.   But I do find a simple principle.   To understand that all that I have is from God and actually for God, I am a steward.  I do understand I have to have some of this material things for life for family, that's totally fair and right.   But maybe this principle will help you decide on your own figure.   This principle is simply this -  live sufficiently give extravagantly.   It sounds very simple but if we were to live like this, we will be radical because I tell you how Singaporeans live.   Live extravagantly, give sufficiently.   Agree?  Just give a bit lah (colloquial) give some money to the poor, it's okay some just enough, but the rest of it for myself - better this, better that, higher life, higher life, we feel that is how we deserve it, but maybe radical Gospel generosity shift the paradigm the other way. Live sufficiently give extravagantly abundance for others enough for me. Now, you got to have enough for yourself if God has provided you with all the things you provide enough for you and your family, that's fair, nothing wrong with that.  Let’s see how this works.  I show you an example of someone's budget. This has been shown in church, but I show you again.  John Wesley he earned 30 pounds use 28 pounds and gave to the poor 2 pounds.  Wow, this guy give less than his tithe 10% cannot make it.   Wait a minute, he needed 28 pounds to live and that's fine, God doesn’t say less than 10 strike you with lightning and thunder.  No, no, no, no such thing. It is of a cheerful heart. I mean, God doesn't do that.  I mean but look at radical generosity applied in living sufficiently and giving extravagantly. Second year, 60 pounds living expenses no change - same house, same bread, same water, same clothes, 32 parts to the poor.  Third year 62 pounds to the poor, making it 69%, fourth year 77% later years, 98%. You say tithes too little for John Wesley… way too little for him, who understands stewardship and Gospel generosity - live sufficiently give extravagantly.

My friends, I say to you today. Go back and learn to be Zacchaeus. I tell you something about Zacchaeus. He must have heard the Gospel, received the Gospel and then being the accountant he is, his mind churns really quickly ta..ta…ta…ta..ta..ta… and he comes out with this figure.  Lord, I think I just ask my finances,  I just ask my tax department yesterday. I'm going to give 50% to the poor and the rest I give fourfold.  He must have made his sums, and made a commitment before the Lord.   I ask you today, have you made your sums?   Now, this is not been calculative or legalistic.  This is about your appropriate stewardship to God, with due consideration. You know why, because a lot of us, we don't consider this aspect of giving of generosity and we somehow let things just slip by.   We let ourselves think , Oh I will give only when there is a need. If there is no need, there is no need to regularly give.  Then when is a need to you comes, you seemingly gave a lot. Wow you see I’m so generous give a lot.  But actually regularly you don't give. So you have deceived yourself that you actually generous and being a good steward when you are not. Worse still, if we don't regularly check on our lives in this area of discipleship to Jesus. What happens is this pastor, you don’t know, I give 20% one.  But 20% based on 1995’s salary lah,  20 years ago, I have not updated. I  know my salary has gone up five times but I'm still giving the same 20% based on my salary then.    Now again, this is not some legalistic imposition of rules. This is for you to be accountable before God. Are you being the steward what God wants you to be. Are you living sufficiently giving extravagantly?  You got to make a choice. I want to tell you, however, the greatest generosity still there is and it's found in one of the greatest verses in the Bible, which we have just read.   This sermon is not so much about my generosity, your generosity, let me focus our attention back to the generosity of Jesus Christ.  Jesus didn't give 10%, 20%, 50%, He didn’t sit in heaven and said I wish I could give 10%, 20%, 50%, He actually gave, He came and gave His life. He gave up all the glories of heaven, He gave it all, this is all must of who we follow. He came for the lost people who could never find the way back to God, people were like sheep have gone astray in our good Shepherd has come for us to come for nice people. He came for the worst. If you today feel that you are unworthy you are not good enough for Jesus. I say to you, you are the best candidate for Jesus. He wants to save you because He came for publicans and sinners like Zacchaeus. He came to save us from being lost.  The word “lost” ,“Apollumi” in  Greek, really refers “to destruction and ruin”.  He came to save us from the wrath of God that will be poured out on sinners in hell for evermore. He came to give to save with his life.  That is generosity.   Know that morning Zacchaeus could never imagine the dramatic conversion that will take place in his life but it did happen when he welcomed Jesus into his house.  This morning, you might have come you thought this is going to be routine Sunday, but I pray this will be a radical day for you if you welcomed Jesus into your heart. My friends, as a church let us look out for the Zacchaeus’s in our lives when we are following Jesus willing to give to serve there may be Zacchaeus’s who might be beautifully saved.  May the name of Jesus Christ lifted up as the church moves forward in Gospel generosity. Let’s bow for a word of prayer.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. The Christian message begins with God. There is no glory to men, we just have the privilege to follow him and to experience the joy of dying and giving.  But we so rejoice this date in the good news of Jesus, how he came for sinners like you and for me. I urge you, if you're here today and you do not know Jesus as yet. He came for you. I'm so glad this morning you came to this Sycamore tree you are right up there and you want to see Jesus today and I say to you, Jesus is calling out to you, John, Jane, Mary, come down, and I want to come to your heart. Would you let him into your heart?  Would you repent of your sin and believe in his finished work on the cross. My friends, don't be like the rich young ruler who think I can do it. No, you can't. the Bible has concluded that we are all sinners, lost and helpless, but the Good Shepherd has come to lay down his life for you.   Repent and believe and be ye safe. Maybe this morning, you have been coming to church for the past 10 years, you have always thought you are a Christian, but objectively as you examine yourself for the past 10 years there has been no change in your generosity.  No change, no change, no matter how you want to believe yourself. You examine it objectively no difference. Maybe God's Word would have convicted you today and help you realize, maybe you never had a regenerate soul. You’re still having the old heart.  Then I say to you today, its not too late for you to come to Christ. Today is the day of salvation. Would you come to Jesus today?   My dear brothers and sisters, are you serious about following Christ?  Do you want to experience a life of faith, of joy in stewardship, to believe, and to experience how Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Well, maybe what it takes is a commitment of faith today.   To look at your area of generosity to look at how you reached the poor.  I’m not saying you give all the money to Gospel light Christian no, no, no, please don't get me wrong, of course you can give to the church, and indeed it is biblical to do so.  You can give to the poor that you meet, causes for Christ, that you have outside of this church, that’s fine.  But I’m talking about your heart and your discipleship to God today.  What’s your paradigm?   Live and give, where is the balance?   Don’t let his messages just fly by, because I'm sure if you don't make resolute commitments of faith before God, sometimes the devil will be like that bird that comes and plucks that seed out of your heart and then you will be stagnating, you will be stunted in your spiritual life. God will not have His way through you as you would have the impact that He intends for your life would not be seen and what a waste that will be in a stewardship of our lives.  Whatever the Lord is saying to you this morning, would you commit it in this hour in prayer back to Him. I pray we will be a church that soaks in the Gospel and manifests our life rich in the Gospel Generosity.  May God help us.

Father we thank You this morning for Your precious word, do Your work in each one of us, myself included, that we would not live our lives based on worldly conventions but more and more biblically, more and more Christ like. Thank You Jesus, came, to seek and save that which is lost.  Thank You, He gave it all.  Thank You that He did it all for the joy that was set before Him. Thank You through His sacrifice we today are healed and saved. Father may Gospel Light be the body of Christ, manifesting this in reality in our day and age, so that the Zacchaeus' around us may be saved, so that people may bring glory to Your Name thank You, we pray this now Jesus Name, Amen.

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