Free from the Power of Money, Free to Use Money Well

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English Service on July 15, 2018

Messenger: Pastor Jim Allison 

Luke 19:1-10  

“Free from the Power of Money, Free to Use Money Well”


We are continuing today in the “Free from . . . Free To” series of messages.  We have been going through the book of James, but I think today we will depart from it, then plan to return next time.  The message I feel led to give you today is partly the same as one I gave here about nine years ago, so some of it may sound familiar if you were here then and have a keen memory. 


Part of my reason for doing this is to call us back once again to our mission.  We believe that, as our Web site says, “Open Door is an international family of faith seeking to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ in Sapporo, Japan.”  Most everyone here has heard this again and again, yet we as human beings can very quickly forget even very important things.  One pastor talks about “the Nehemiah principle.”  In the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, the people of God have a vision for living in freedom in their homeland, so they set out at the Lord’s leading to build a wall around Jerusalem.  But when they are about half way finished, they begin to face criticism, opposition, fatigue, and danger.  They are at risk of giving up on the dream God has given them.  At that point, Nehemiah tells everyone: “Don't be afraid of your enemies. Remember the Lord. He is great and powerful. So fight for your brothers and sisters. Fight for your sons and daughters. Fight for your wives and homes.”  And in the end, they finish the wall and begin life in freedom again—in only 52 days, no less!


We also have a great vision.  It will lead us to live in great freedom as we continue working toward it under God’s leadership.  But for that to happen, we need to stay focused on our vision.  


The well-known story of Zacchaeus’ can help us do that.  It can show us a key way to “live out the gospel” by using money in healthy, constructive 


ways.  There are many other things for us to learn from this reading, for example what Christ’s purpose and mission were and what it means to be lost and saved.  After the story of God’s love for poor people like Bartimaeus in chapter 18, chapter 19 shows that God loves rich people like Zacchaeus, too.  His love reaches every human being of every background. 


There are wonderful teachings here about various kinds of freedom that come to Zacchaeus through his encounter with Christ.  Psychologically, he makes a dramatic change when he moves from knowing that he is rejected to seeing that he is accepted, chosen.  He is loved.  Socially, he may have gone from lower to higher after he became rich, but in meeting Christ, the point becomes not lower or higher but together.  He enters a new community.  Spiritually, Zacchaeus makes the journey from being judged a sinner to being called a Son of Abraham.  He is saved.  


But among the many teachings in this story, let’s focus today on one certain aspect of our theme of freedom in Christ.  We have been learning how, when we come to know Him through faith and become His disciples, we become both free from some things and free to others.  Today let’s put the spotlight on the changes that come in Zacchaeus’ way of using money.


Especially in cultures where a materialist worldview is strong and there is a clear business-orientation, perhaps the greatest threat to faith is not other religions but the love of money.  In this kind of environment, it becomes extremely easy to look to money or other possessions for the security, enjoyment, fulfillment, and other forms of power we need in life.


When we love and trust money to meet our deep needs, even if we talk about Christ and faith and think we are good Christians, we are serving another god.  Church life can all too often become difficult to distinguish from corporate life.  Especially “user-friendly” churches like ours can be open to the charge that we are driven by “consumer Christianity.”  We are constantly in danger of making our real goal not leading people to Christ but offering a product for people to “buy” and “use” for their own private purposes.


Zacchaeus’ story raises the issue of money and how God’s people are to use it.  He provides a living example of the Bible truth that God can set us free from the power of money and enable us to learn to live as people rich in love, in friends, in joy, and in faith.  He is a model of the meaning of the words “free in Christ.” 


First a little background about this story, then some principles we can see taught in it.  Jericho at this time is an important trading point for balsam.  That’s where a good part of the money that people pay in taxes comes from.  Zacchaeus, as head of the tax collections in this region, takes the money, gives it to the hated foreigners controlling the country, and no doubt keeps a good bit for himself, as well.


Why is Zacchaeus in a tree, of all places, when he meets Jesus?  The type he climbs, a sycamore-fig, is a wide open tree with low branches, so that he can easily climb into it.  That gives him a higher point of view, so he can see Jesus over the crowd.


Christ is the hero of this group traveling from Galilee on their way to the Passover Festival in Jerusalem.  But here He shocks the people of Jericho and maybe even His own followers by inviting himself to be the guest of this tax collector who was probably disliked by nearly everyone there.  He says to Zacchaeus (v. 5), “I must stay at your house today.”  


Staying at a total stranger’s house is not uncommon in Jesus’ culture and time.  There is not a large system of hotels and other lodgings such as we have today, and giving guests a place to stay is in line with the teachings of the Bible.  Showing hospitality to people is a way of responding to God’s goodness to us.  Yet choosing this man—Zacchaeus—is surprising.


If He came to Japan today like this, whom would Christ select?  What if it was the government official in the news recently who is accused of getting a university to admit his son by adding points to his true entrance exam score?  That might give something of the same shocking impression.  Why him?  If you were looking for members of a team to do something that you believed in deeply, would you even think of choosing him?  Probably not.  In Jesus’ time, of all the people you would not choose if your goal was to win the support of many others, Zacchaeus is the one you would avoid most.  


But Christ picks him.  Maybe it is to show us that God’s love extends to every human being, no matter how many bad things we have done.  Our worst sin or greatest mistake is still far smaller than God’s redeeming love.  Or maybe Jesus wants to show that, no matter how much money a person has, we are all poor in the sight of God.  


We see pretty clearly how Zacchaeus viewed money before he met Christ.  How about after?  We get some very strong hints through his actions.  They point to teachings we find throughout the Bible.  Let’s look at a few key principles.


1. First is the principle of God’s ownership.  When He gives His people the Law before they enter their homeland, He tells them (Leviticus 25:23), “The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.”  The people of Israel may not have practiced this teaching fully and consistently, but it was there in their Law from ancient times, they knew it, and it shows the guiding principles and spirit God holds up for us even today regarding using money.


Anything we may have is only ours on loan from Him, because He has allowed us to have it (whether He does this actively or passively).  And none of us gets to keep what we have.  If we don’t lose it in this life, we will lose it before we go to the next life.  And even before that, we may well lose the ability to enjoy it.  When we view possessions this way, it impacts powerfully the ways we use them.  Wanting to put them to use in ways that line up with God’s teaching and please Him just makes sense when you see money this way.


2. Second is the principle of God’s abundance.  When we accept this view of reality, we handle money differently than if we focus on scarcity and the fear of running out.  Because God has plenty, we rely on Him daily rather than hoarding.  When we truly believe that God is our Father, we don’t make it our goal to provide for our own needs because we know we can trust Him to meet them.  Children who know they are loved by a kind and rich father do not keep onigiri hidden in their pockets just in case he decides not to give them enough for lunch.  They have learned to live in His provision.  They are good teachers for us.  They show us what God means when He says (Psalm 50:10, NIV), “. . . every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.”  


Not every worldview will lead us to this understanding of possessions.  Some will teach us that if we don’t have much, it is because others have taken it and kept us from having what we should.  If we are rich, it is because we have unfairly taken things that should belong to others.  This “zero-sum” or “limited-good” way of viewing the world can lead to great resentments and division.  By contrast, Jesus tells us to pray (Matthew 6:11), “Give us today our daily bread.”  He soon follows that with (Matthew 6:19), “Don’t store up treasures on earth!”  Actually putting these teachings into practice opens the way to just and lasting peace.


3. When you really know about God’s abundance, living by the third principle becomes possible.  That is the principle of generosity.  Christ tells us as His followers (Luke 6:38, NIV), “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  We can learn to give freely as we also are learning to receive freely.  And we come to realize an amazing thing: you can never out-give God.  No matter how much we give Him in response to His kindness, He always finds a way to give more to us.


One part of generosity is forgiving debts.  You probably know the famous words of the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:12): “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  It’s a mistake to think that Christ only wants those words to have a spiritual meaning.  There are times when He also leads His people to wipe away financial debts and let people start again.  There is grace in that.


4. Fourth and last is the principle of community responsibility.  This differs from saying that each must take care of his/her own needs.  Cain asks God after he kills his brother, Abel (Genesis 4:9), “Am I supposed to look after my brother?”  God’s answer seems to be, “Yes.  And your sister and neighbors and others.”  We are here to care for each other.  Does that mean we have no responsibility to work to provide for ourselves and our families?  No, Paul writes (II Thessalonians 3:10, NIV), “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’”  But along with this teaching of individual responsibility, we receive instructions such as (Galatians 6:2) “Carry each other's heavy loads.  If you do, you will give the law of Christ its full meaning.”  Zacchaeus gets this.  He says (v. 8) when Jesus is at his house, 


Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of what I own to those who are poor. And if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay it back. I will pay back four times the amount I took. 


The grammar in the Greek original shows he was admitting he had cheated people.  Some translations even leave out “if.”


And he knows that sometimes saying, “I’m sorry” is not enough.  He promises to pay back “four times” the amount he has taken.  This is based on teachings from the Old Testament Law such as Exodus 22:1, which says, “Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.”  Numbers 5:5 is very similar but teaches that the person must also confess the sin he/she has committed.  God knows that that is a key part of not only getting justice but also rebuilding community after trouble has come.


Community responsibility.  On a practical level, this is why we need to give money to support the church.  We have a goal of each person not giving the same amount but making the same sacrifice.  That is because God looks most of all at our hearts.  He wants not just our money but far more our hearts, our love and commitment.  We all receive the same amount from God—100%, that is—the gift Christ gave of His life on the cross.  So returning a part of what we receive to Him is a way of showing our appreciation and willingness to take active part in the life of His family.  


Especially as church members age, and people who have given a percentage of their income move past their money-earning years, the future of the group depends on other members continuing to share this responsibility.  If we don’t, especially in small churches, at some point the building becomes too old to use, and we don’t have enough to replace it.  Or the pastor’s family becomes unable to keep up with the growing expenses of a growing family and has to leave.  Is there then enough financial power to call a new pastor?  At some point, the problem moves from being a financial one to a spiritual one.  That’s why God gives us from the beginning these basic teachings about money and possessions and the ways we can use them well. 


This is the good news I have brought you today: with God’s help, we can learn to be free from the damaging power that money can have in our lives, and free to use it in ways that lead to health, strength, and His glory.  Let’s pray that He will help us do that, beginning now.


Lord of all, bring about in us the kind of radical, life-transforming change that you did in the life of Zacchaeus long ago.  Set us free, as you did him, so that we too will discover more and more each day the joy of knowing Christ as Savior and Lord.  As He passed through Jericho that day, we know He is passing before us through the words of the Bible once again.  Help us to welcome Him into our lives as Zacchaeus did.  As we do, make us better able to live out the gospel we have received from Him.  In the way we handle money and possessions, and in all parts of our lives, help us to know you more truly, love you more deeply, and reflect your presence in our lives more clearly in each day ahead.  In Christ’s name we ask it.  Amen. 




Robertson, A. T. (1960). Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Rev. ed. Broadman Press. Retrieved July 1, 2018 from pictures/luke/luke-19-8.html

Tatsumi, K., Toyama, K., and Kimu, S. (July 13, 2018). Med school in bribery scandal apparently created lists of backdoor admissions. The Mainichi. Retrieved July 14, 2018 from < 20180713/ p2a/00m/0na/012000>c

Warren, R. (June 19, 2013). “Restate Your Church Vision Every 30 Days.” Retrieved July 13, 2018 from



 ルカによる福音書 19章1〜10節







 私達は、 聖書の中のこの有名な話から多くのことを学びます。

 例えば、キリストが来られた目的とミッションについて(ルカ19章10節)、 失われた人とは、そして救うためとはどのような意味なのでしょうか(ルカ19章10節、  )





  心理学上の変化 〜  拒絶されている者から選ばれた者へ

  社会的な変化    〜  底辺にいる者から高尚な者へ、そしてその融合へl

  霊的な変化       〜  罪人からアブラハムの息子へ



















  5節では、 “今日 私はあなたの家に泊まることにした。” とあります。

   全く知らない人の家に泊まるということは、この時代の文化では考えられないことではありませんでした(今日の世界で “キリストのように生きる” ということは、多分、私達が旅をする時に全くの他人の家へ泊まることを意味するものではないのです。)


  キリストはザアカイを群衆の中から選びました。 それはまるで、街の大きくて主要な役所の責任者を選ぶようなもので、そしてその役所が不良債権と多額の損失を抱え、政府に税金の補てんを願い出ていて、誰もが、その役所は大きすぎて潰せないと思っているというものです。



  どうしてでしょう? 多分それは、たとえどれほど多くの悪事を行なっていても、神様の愛は全ての人に伸ばされていることを示すためだったからでしょう。私達が考える最悪な罪も、最大の過ちも、神様の救済する愛に比べれば、まだまだ格段に小さいのです。また、キリストは、人がどんなにお金を持っていたとしても、神様の目から見れば貧しいのだと示されたかったのかもしれません。


 8節  “もし私が〜を持っていれば”



9節 “4倍”


  ‘ 牛とか羊を盗み、これを殺したり、売ったりした場合、牛一頭を牛五頭で、羊1匹を羊4匹で償わなければならない。



 “ついで主はモーセに告げて仰せられた。 6節  ”イスラエル人に告げよ。男にせよ女にせよ、主に対して不信の罪を犯し、他人に何か一つでも罪を犯し、自分でその罪を認めたときは“  7節 ”自分の犯した罪を告白しなければならない。その者は罪過のために総額を弁償する。また、それにその5分の1を加えて、当の被害者に支払わなければならない。“ 


 私達は、ザアカイがキリストとお会いする前に、お金についてどう考えていたか、はっきり見てきました。では、その後はどうなったのでしょう? ザアカイのその後の行動が良いヒントです。

 それは私達が聖書を通して見つけることのできる教えを示しています。それではそれらの主要な 教えについて見ていきましょう。


1 神様の所有であるという原則








2 神様の豊かさの原則対欠乏


  詩篇50章10節 ”森の全ての獣は、私のもの。千の丘の家畜も。“


   ” わたし達に日ごとの糧をきょうもお与え下さい。“ 




3 寛大の原則


    “与えなさい。そうすれば自分も与えられます。 人々は量りをよくして、押しつけ、揺すりいれ、 あふれるまでにして、懐に入れてくれるでしょう。あなた方は、人を量る量りで、自分も量り返してもらうからです。“


   A  借財を許すことを含める











   B 恵によって生きるモデル(例) 


       “ 最初の者たちがもらいに来て、もっと多くもらえるだろうと思ったが、彼らもやはり一人1デナリずつであった。”


4  社会責任の原則対それぞれの必要の個人による充足


   “ 互いの重荷を負い合い、そのようにしてキリストの立法を全うしなさい。”






    “ 私達は、あなた方のところにいた時にも、働きたくない者は食べるなと命じました。”








Robertson, A. T. (1960). Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Rev. ed. Broadman Press. Retrieved July 1, 2018 from commentaries/robertsons-word- pictures/luke/luke-19-8.html

Tatsumi, K., Toyama, K., and Kimu, S. (July 13, 2018). Med school in bribery scandal apparently created lists of backdoor admissions. The Mainichi. Retrieved July 14, 2018 from

Warren, R. (June 19, 2013). “Restate Your Church Vision Every 30 Days.” Retrieved July 13, 2018 from