Wisdom from above is . . . full of mercy and good fruits
The Rev. Jeff Newlin, a stewardship consultant with RSI, preached this weekend. His sermon text was Luke 19:1-10 - the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector. Jeff focused on the transformation Zacchaeus made from a money-obsessed extortionist to a profoundly generous friend of the poor, a transformation that came from the grace Jesus extended to him. The grace, Jeff noted, came first. The salvation came first. AFTER the salvation happened, Zacchaeus was then free - free to let go of his love of riches, free to defend himself from allegations of fraud, free to be generous from the heart.
Of course, then Jeff asked us to focus on our own sense of freedom when it comes to money. When we are indeed free from fear that we won't have enough, and if we are convinced our church is doing God's work, then giving generously to the church, from the heart, is an act of faith that doesn't buy our salvation, but it does express it.