Our country has been in a fair deal of turmoil this year. Almost every day the news has carried stories about political upheaval, economic difficulty and unrest. The controversial Gupta family has dominated headlines. Allegations against them abound of undue influence in the appointment of key government officials, corrupt tender practices and them benefitting to the tune of billions of rands (if reports are to be believed) from their connections with powerful political leaders. The name “Gupta” has become synonymous, to many people, with corruption.
So what would Jesus Christ say to the Guptas?
Allow me to make a few disclaimers: Firstly, I have never met the Guptas and all that I know about them is from what I have read in the press. Secondly, I don’t know EXACTLY what Jesus would say to them, but I have taken some ideas of things that He said to others from the Bible. Thirdly, please read through to the final paragraph!
Jesus might say to them – “Dishonest money dwindles away…” (Proverbs 13:11) and “Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods” (Psalm 62:10). God is not against people making money. On the contrary He says: “…remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth (Deut 8:18). He encourages us to earn a living (Eph 4:28) and to provide for our families (1 Tim 5:24). But His Word makes it clear that HOW we do this is important to Him! “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer” (Eph 4:28). “The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favour with him.” (Prov 11:1)
Another thing that Jesus might say is not to put your hope in wealth, power or influence. We are to love God and use money. Many people love money and use God.
On one occasion a very wealthy ruler approached Jesus and asked him what He needed to do in order to have eternal life. Jesus gave him this deeply challenging reply – ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ (Luke 18:22). We read that this young ruler walked away very sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus was in essence asking this man to decide what was most important to him – his current wealthy lifestyle or finding favour with God.
I am sure that Jesus would tell the Guptas that He loved them enough to die for them. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. Jesus loved people. He went to dinner parties with “tax collectors and sinners”, and when the religious people got offended by this He told them that they were in worse trouble because they didn’t recognize their need for help. Children clamoured to be with Jesus. A prostitute once knelt at His feet weeping and poured perfume over them. Lepers (outcast from society) received acceptance and healing from Him.
A word that Jesus often used when speaking to people was the word “Repent” (Matt 4:17). This word means to acknowledge one’s wrongdoing and to turn towards God and pursue a new path.
An amazing example of this was a social pariah – Zaccheus – who had an unusual interaction with Jesus (Luke 19). Zaccheus was a tax collector – in those days, this implied a Jew who worked for the hated Roman overlords. These tax collectors would have the help of Roman soldiers to extort much more tax than was owed, and they got to pocket much of these ill-gotten gains. One day, while Jesus was passing through Zaccheus’ hometown, the diminutive tax collector decided to climb a tree to get a better vantage point to see Jesus. On reaching this tree, Jesus stopped, and invited Himself to Zaccheus’ house for a short visit. Luke does not tell us what they spoke about, but at the end of their conversation, Zaccheus decided to give half of his wealth away and repay any people that he had stolen from four times the amount of everything that he had taken.
This kind of radical transformation does not just take place in the ordinary run of things. Jesus had the most incredible impact on Zaccheus’ life. Zaccheus repented. He must have known that he was deeply loved and forgiven by Jesus! His actions demonstrated a change in heart.
Jesus also said this – ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged… ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matt 7:1-3). I guess that Jesus knew that we all prefer hearing what He would say to other people to what He would say to us. Everything that Jesus would say to the Guptas, He would say to you and me. It is far easier to see someone else’s alleged shortcomings than my own. Let us never forget that Jesus wants to help us get the planks (sins and shortcomings) out of our own eyes first. If Jesus was to sit in person across the table from you or me, what would He be saying to us?!