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What is Revolutionary Generosity? The Story of Zacchaeus

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The Signatry

March 10, 2023

If you’ve read our mission statement, you know that The Signatry exists to facilitate and inspire revolutionary biblical generosity. But what is revolutionary generosity? What makes it revolutionary? Generosity changes the world every day—but we also believe that God changes us, His children, through generosity. The revolution truly starts in the heart.

The Bible story of Zacchaeus found in Luke 19 models how transformational, revolutionary generosity shows up when someone encounters God.


Zacchaeus encounters Jesus

Zacchaeus, a wealthy, corrupt tax collector despised among his people, runs and climbs a tree just to see Jesus passing by. Luke tells us, “He wanted to see who Jesus was” (Luke 19:3). We do not learn why Zacchaeus was so curious—maybe even the desire to see Jesus was a gift from the Holy Spirit.

Jesus spots Zacchaeus from below and instructs him, “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (v. 5). The people nearby are not pleased. After all, Zacchaeus is not just any tax collector, he is a chief tax collector, and his wealth is probably thanks to his own corruption and the corrupt men who work under him. But Jesus extends love and grace. He reaches past Zacchaeus’s well-earned reputation as a sinner to invite Himself over.


Zacchaeus is changed

That kind of love is revolutionary. Zacchaeus is changed. He welcomes Jesus and says, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (v. 8). It’s the very first thing he does.

Imagine if you saw this happen in your own community. Imagine that a local leader or prominent figure who is widely distrusted or disgraced suddenly vows to undo all the wrong they have done, and then some. You might think, “That sounds crazy! That can’t be true!”

This is the revolutionary generosity that flows from a revolutionary encounter with Jesus. Jesus never asked Zacchaeus to give anything away, much less drain his savings to uplift all the people he harmed. It seems almost as if Zacchaeus can’t help himself. Jesus’s gracious seeking and saving of the lost (v. 10) is so compelling that Zacchaeus feels called to do justice and build God’s Kingdom right away.


Seeking generosity today

Revolutionary generosity comes from the Lord. It is something we can ask for. We can ask the Holy Spirit for inspiration, renewed passion, a fresh encounter with the gospel, and openness to see others’ needs.

Revolutionary generosity does not always mean giving more. For Zacchaeus, it did (in large part to bring justice to those he had wronged). It may also mean:

1. Giving differently.

Reevaluate how and where you donate your money.

2. Giving locally.

Perhaps you have seen needs in your own neighborhood that you could help meet—financial or otherwise.

3. Giving subtly.

One creative idea is to look for generosity opportunities that will not give you a tax deduction.

Jesus wants your heart, not your money. Give Him your heart, and “crazy,” revolutionary things may follow.

Pursue revolutionary generosity with your family

Find more resources and ideas for making generosity a way of life in your family. Simple acts of generosity today can lead to a legacy of true, revolutionary generosity for generations to come.

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About The Signatry

A quill, representing The Signatry

The Signatry seeks to inspire and facilitate revolutionary biblical generosity across generations. Through donor advised funds and other innovative tools and resources, families are empowered to live generously, modeling biblical values for future generations and making a greater impact for causes that align with their passions. Since its founding in 2000, The Signatry has facilitated sending over $4 billion to organizations around the world that are dedicated to solving the world’s greatest problems.

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