Sunday, October 13, 2019
God’s love is a truly amazing thing! In response to His love He expects His children to love others. Of all of the ways we can demonstrate His love to others there is, perhaps, no stronger testimony to His power than the way that we use our money for others: for the kingdom.
GOD LOVES THE LOST
Seeing the ‘sinners and tax collectors’ gathering around Jesus, the religious rulers believed that Jesus had to compromise The Law. “Righteous people do not hang out with those people,” they may have exclaimed (Luke 15:1-2).
It is at this point that Jesus tells the story of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7), the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10) and the lost son (Luke 15:11-24) to show that attending to the lost and keeping the Law are in perfect harmony. Jesus, then, challenges the Pharisees to look at their own hearts as He tells them the story of the older brother. In the story, his father ‘pleaded’ with him to join the celebration (Luke 15:25-32).
THE USE OF MONEY
At the beginning of Luke 16 Jesus tells the parable of the shrewd manager who uses his former employer’s money to secure his own future. Jesus seems to be encouraging us to use the money that God gives us to make friends to encourage them to secure their eternal future as well as our own (Luke 16:1-9).
Managing God’s wealth well means that we will be entrusted with more responsibility. Conversely, there are negative consequences when we use His wealth selfishly for ourselves (Luke 16:10-12). To try to straddle the fence between worshiping God or money is futile because it is an either/or proposition (Luke 16:13).
FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY
At this point the religious rulers begin to ‘sneer’ at Jesus, prompting his convicting accusation: “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15).
Their disdain for Jesus’ love for the lost is now coupled with their love of money. They, themselves, are the ones compromising the Law when they use the wealth that God had given them for their own selfish purposes. Jesus says to them:
“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.”Luke 16:16 (NIV)
If Jesus was quoting the religious rulers then He could be mocking them as if to say, ‘Everything was just fine until John the Baptist and Jesus showed up! Now everyone thinks they can enter the kingdom of God!” Or it could be that Jesus is simply observing that the Law and the Prophets have now been realized with the good news of the kingdom of God.
Either way, Jesus’ point is clear, love for the lost and our use of money in response to God’s love for us is consistent with the Law and the Prophets. In fact, Jesus affirms, ” It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law” (Luke 16:17).
To illustrate this point, Jesus boldly wades right into the hotly debated controversy of marriage and divorce. This was an issue with which the religious elite were embroiled in first-century Israel (see Matthew 19:1-9). “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Luke 16:18). It is as if to say, “There is no controversy here except where you religious rulers have chosen to compromise The Law to your own advantage.”
For those who practice this kind of mental gymnastics, Jesus warns them of their fate in the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).
The final words of Moses in the story point to a prophetic truth that will be realized in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Himself: ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’ (Luke 16:31, NIV).
This observation was as true then as it is now, today. Believe in the Law and the Prophets! Believe in the one who has risen from the dead! Listen to the story, know Christ, and use the money God has given you for His purposes!