LUKE 16:14-15: “The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him. Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.” NLT
OBSERVATION: What does God think about the world? This is really a trick question. It hinges on how we define the world. In the Scriptures, there are two definitions for the world. The first is God’s creation which included mankind and everything else that He created (see John 3:16). The second definition for the world is the current rule and reign of the enemy over the affairs of mankind and the system which he has corrupted.
Jesus was focusing on the second definition when he addressed the Pharisees. Jesus had just finished His parable about the unjust steward who used the world’s riches for his personal benefit. He ended this parable with these words.
- “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” Luke 16:13 NLT
What is important to note is the Pharisees’ response to these words of Jesus. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of their day. They went to synagogue each week. They offered their offerings and sacrifices at the Temple. From all outward appearances, they had it all together. Yet, they scoffed at Jesus’ words. Why? It was because they loved money.
Money within itself is not evil. It is the love of money that is evil. Yet, how we view and use money says more about our spirituality than almost anything else. I have frequently said that there is an umbilical cord attached between our wallets and our heart. When we come to Christ, just as when a baby is born into this world, we need to cut this umbilical cord if we are to live. The Pharisees were unwilling to do this.
When you analyze the world system around us it all revolves around money. Nations rise against nations for control of territories and resources, which is, in reality, a struggle for money. In our culture, we revere those who have achieved great success and wealth. And, as believers, we are tempted to find a way that we can live in harmony with both desires – our desire for God and money. Yet, this is never possible. We can never serve two masters. One will always prevail!
The Pharisees loved the spotlight and they loved their money. They resisted Jesus because He challenged the very heart of their hypocrisy. When I read Jesus’ words and the Pharisees’ response, I am faced with this question as I look in the mirror. Am I living a life devoted to God or am I living like a Pharisee?
So much of American Christianity is focused on success. We don’t measure our spiritual health by what we are becoming. We measure it by what we have or have accomplished. We elevate celebrity and downplay the humble servant. We praise the church with thousands and forget the small community church that is humbly serving their congregation day in and day out on a first name, person to person basis. No wonder Jesus proclaimed,
- “What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.”
There is a famous episode of the TV show Seinfeld. George Costanza was Jerry Seinfeld’s best friend and he was a bit of a loser. Everything he did went south. He could not hold a job. He was a failure with relationships. Everything he touched seemed to fall apart. Then, one day he had a revelation – “Do the opposite!” When George began to do the opposite everything began to turn in his favor. It was a revelation!
Jesus is proclaiming the same thing when He says – “What the world (system) honors is detestable in the sight of God.” Why is this? It is because the world system is run and influenced by the prince of this world – Satan. Satan has only one agenda – to steal, to kill, and to destroy. The love of money never leads to peace and fulfillment. It always captures and imprisons the heart of its victim. This is true about the love of money – and everything else this world system honors and worships.
So what is the answer? How do we manage money and live a life that is pleasing to God? The key is how we use our money.
- “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.” Luke 16:9 NLT
Jesus is not saying to use our money to buy friendship or influence. Rather, He is exhorting us to use all our worldly resources in a way that honors God and helps others. This is the application of the Great Commandment in light of our money and resources. We love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength when we honor Him with our tithes and offerings. And, we love our neighbor as ourselves when we use our worldly resources to help those who are in need.
Money and every resource we have in life is a gift from God. The question is never how much of my resources should I give to God. The real question is how much of His resources, that He has entrusted me with, can I use for myself. How we ask and answer this question will let us know whether there is an umbilical cord still attached to our wallet.
John Wesley understood these words of Jesus. He is quoted as saying,
- “Make as much as you can, save as much as you can, and give as much as you can.”
It takes money to live. It takes money to fulfill the Great Commission. Money is necessary for this life and the life of the church. What God’s Kingdom needs are disciples who are free from the love of money and captivated by the love of Christ!
Lord, help me to be such a disciple!
In Jesus Name!