To address the topic of personal sacrifice, John Piper claims that the bible is unclear about what percentage of one’s possessions one should dedicate to God, versus using for one’s personal pleasure. He uses two examples: (1) Rich Young Ruler and (2) Zacchaeus the tax collector.
[quote from John Piper] The rich young ruler was told he needed to sell everything (Mark 10:21). That’s what it meant for him to follow Jesus. Zacchaeus gave away half of his goods to the poor, and when Jesus watched that happen, he said, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9).
[/quote from John Piper]
John Piper’s argument is that Rich Young Ruler had to give 100%, but Zaccheus only had to give 50%, so there’s no strict percentage expected of any Christian.
But there’s a big problem with his argument. The Zacchaeus example was a blatant misinterpretation, as anyone can see by reading the relevant passage:
Luke 19:8-9 New International Version (NIV)
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “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.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
Zacchaeus did much more than just giving 50% to the poor. He also promised to repay fourfold those he cheated. The repayment would have to come from the 50% remaining after giving to the poor.
But Piper deliberately leaves out that part, to serve his false claim that Jesus expected only 50% from Zaccheus, but 100% from the Rich Young Ruler, so that apparently there is no clear standard.
He wraps it up with some cool story about the bad guy who gives 100% albeit bitterly, versus the good guy who gives only a fraction but does so “lovingly”. John Piper basically says that if your heart is in the right place, the percentage doesn’t really matter.
This allows John Piper’s listeners to see themselves as the good guy with their heart in the right place, even if they only dedicate a fraction of their wealth to God, and spend the rest indulging in meaningless personal pleasures.
This is just one of many instances in which Piper would twist scripture to give his listeners what they like to hear.