Poor and Honest, or Rich and Crooked?
By Miguel Alonso
Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.
Out of nowhere, a richly dressed man dropped out of the spreading branches of a sycamore tree. Known for small stature, immense wealth, and crooked occupation, this man was locally infamous. As a tax collector, he took advantage of people, deceiving them in his dealings. Through fraud, he became the richest man in town. However, beneath the gold and finery was a sick heart. Deception, like a worm, was eating away at him. He had heard of Jesus teaching to “exact no more than that which is appointed you” (Luke 3:13). With these words fresh in his mind he stood up and started towards Jesus.
Having uttered words of invitation just a moment earlier, Jesus reached out to Zacchaeus. Overwhelmed by the love and personality of Jesus, his gaze locked with the Savior’s. Love melted the heart that had so long been frozen by gold. This encounter was the final token. Instantly Zacchaeus decided to make all of his dealings right. He vowed to give half his money to the poor and pay back what he had cheated four times over. Zacchaeus transformed from rich and crooked to poor-in-spirit and upright by accepting the love of Christ.
Honesty naturally springs from a relationship with Jesus. Those who profess Christ but deal fraudulently bear a false witness of His true character. By virtue of conversion, they, like the chief tax collector, will abandon dishonest practices — even if it means going from billionaire to beggar. As the Biblical proverb explains, It is better to be poor and honest than rich and crooked.