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Expository Studies

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Daily Encouragement

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August 15, 2012

Today’s Choice:

Serve God or Wealth

Luke 16:10-13, Page 1633

    In response to a another question, today we shall study the supreme value the Lord Jesus placed upon faithful service to Him, based upon our love for the Savior.  In Luke 16:1-9, page 1632, Jesus taught a parable about an unfaithful manager who squandered his master’s possessions.  When the master called that evil manager to account, the evil manager made deals with each debtor of the master and reduced the amount owed on the account.  This scheme amounted to stealing from the master, where the manager and debtor conspired together to defraud the master of all the money due to the master.   Jesus, however, emphasized another part of the parable.  The master praised the evil manager for his shrewd scheme.    Jesus made the point that the sons of light can use the earthly wealth of the unrighteous to benefit the community of believers.  After using earthly wealth to benefit believers, the sons of light die, and the community of believers in heaven will receive the sons of light into heaven with them.   As believers, we should be shrewd in the use of all wealth, even the wealth this world, to benefit believers.  Jesus, however, next turns to the disciples and draws out a new principle to caution the disciples about the proper use of money, so that they will not learn to steal from their masters.  Jesus never endorsed stealing from your master, but rather commanded us to be faithful in the proper and Godly use of all money.  In Luke 16:10-13, Jesus explains that God demands our faithfulness whether we have a lot of money, or little money, and whether we manage our own money, or someone else’s money.

Luke 16:10, Page 1632-1633

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”

      Faithful in Little, Faithful in Much.   In Luke 16:10, page 1632-1633, Jesus taught the disciples the basic principle of faithfulness.  Jesus gave a simple doctrine: faithful in very little things, faithful also in much.  Jesus stated that faithfulness as a spiritual quality will affect all the things that we do.  For example, you cannot say that I will become faithful only when I have a large ministry.  If you are unwilling to be faithful to your own household and your own spouse, they how can you be faithful to many people?  Many people imagine they can be faithful to the task at work, but then can be completely unfaithful at home.  Or politicians think they can be faithful to their public life in office, but unfaithful in their private lives.  Jesus gave us clear teaching on this matter.  Faithfulness will manifest itself in all areas, and in all we do, or its absence will be glaringly apparent.

      Unrighteous in a Very Little Thing, Unrighteous in Much.  In Luke 16:10, page 1632-1633, Jesus contrasted faithful (“πιστός“) with unrighteous (“ἄδικος“).  The term “faithful” means to be trusty, to carry out your duties or responsibilities without disobedience.  In contrast, the term “unrighteous” describes the person who has violated the rules and commands and offended justice.  It carries the idea of fraud and deceit in this context.  Jesus meant that an unrighteous person deals improperly in all things, whether he has a little or a lot.  Consider the unrighteous manager in the first parable.  The unrighteous manager squandered his master’s possessions when he had many possessions entrusted to him, and then, the same unrighteous manager was unrighteous later with the lesser amount of possessions remaining under his management.   You can never expect to be faithful with much, if you are unrighteous with the little already entrusted to you.  If you cannot manage your current income to the glory of God, how can God entrust you with greater wealth in the future?  Now is the time to learn to obey God, and be very faithful with the little God has given you right now.  When you learn to manage the little faithfully, then God may bless you with greater wealth later. 

Luke 16:11, Page 1633

“Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?

      Unrighteous Wealth and True Riches.  Jesus now shifts to the management of different kinds of wealth.  Jesus has spoken first about the proper and faithful use of earthly wealth to benefit believers.  How well the believer manages earthly wealth will determine the believer’s use of true riches.  Some people think that they can be great Christians, but lie, cheat and steal everyday in their earthly business to make money and earn a living.  Jesus absolutely forbids such behavior.  We must obey Christ twenty-four hours per day, each day for the rest of our lives.  We cannot separate what we do at work from who we are in Christ Jesus.  The same standards of behavior and management must apply everywhere, at all times.  Jesus used the term “unrighteous wealth” (“ἀδίκῳ μαμωνᾷ“) to contrast “true riches” (“τὸ ἀληθινὸν“).  Notice the term “riches” in the New American Standard Bible text is in italics, indicating it was added by the translators to capture the sense.  In the original text, it is only “the true to you?”  We should learn here that God desires to entrust the true riches, or all righteous and true things, to you.  But, if you have become the type of person who treats the unrighteous wealth of this world as your own, to be used for your purposes and consumed as you alone see fit, then you will not be faithful with the true riches of all types which God seeks for you to manage.  First learn to manage unrighteous wealth, and then God will let you become useful as steward of the mysteries of God, which God will proclaim through you as your serve Him in faithfulness (2 Corinthians 4:1-4, page 1785). 

    

Luke 16:12, Page 1633

“And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”

       Managing Another’s Property and Your Own Property.   In Luke 16:12, page 1633, we see Jesus drew a distinction about the ownership of property.  In the previous verse, He contrasted the type of riches.  Now He contrasts the ownership of the riches.  This verse challenges me on two levels at once.  First, Jesus points to my stewardship of other people’s money.  Have I been shrewd in the use of the wealth of other people?  If I answer, yes, I have been shrewd, then He may entrust me with my own money for management.  Let me illustrate this point from my law practice.  Many parents have watched their children misuse the parents’ gifts and allowances to their children for years.  Those parents fear that once they die, their children who have misused the parents’ money will now inherit a large sum of money.  Once the money becomes the children’s own money, they will blow it on drugs, carousing, or other sinful enterprises.  Jesus apparently warns His disciples that how one manages another’s money will certainly determine how well they will manage their own money.  But, Jesus draws a second and related contrast here.  God decides what things He will entrust to what people, and when He will entrust them.  In this case, as a second view, Jesus apparently makes the point that your management of earthly assets will determine your heavenly rewards.  If you have not managed earthly assets righteously, then you will not receive your own reward in heaven.  In any event, Jesus clearly teaches His disciples to be very careful in the management of all money, so that God will entrust you with your own rewards of faithful service.   At all points, faithful management of all assets must characterize your service to God as a steward of God’s assets, who owns all things (Psalm 50:10-12).    You may also recall that under the Old Testament Law, God described all the tithe of the land, both its seed and fruit, as the property of the LORD and holy to the LORD.  Jesus owns the land, the plants, the seeds, the harvest and all things upon the earth.  Indeed, Jesus created all things and they all exist for Him (Colossians 1:16-17, page 1841).  God opens His hand and feeds every living thing (Psalm 145:15-16,  page 998).   As managers and stewards of God’s creation, we must devote ourselves in love to giving God our entire lives for His glory.  As we serve Him well as a manager, He will entrust to us more and more possessions of different kinds.

Luke 16:13, Page 1633

“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth.”

       Serving Only One Master: God.  In Luke 16:13, page 1633, Jesus drew a summary of His teaching to that point.  Jesus focused upon the Master-Servant relationship.  The servant can only serve one master.  If the servant serves wealth and becomes consumed with obtaining more and more wealth, to the exclusion of serving God or handling the wealth righteously, then that evil servant will hate God.  Jesus tied together the verbs “love” (“ἀγαπήσει“) and “devoted” (“ἀνθέξεται” ) within the servant.   Jesus pictures the love of the servant causing the servant to hold his master firmly and closely, and in this case, to hold firmly and faithfully to the desires of the master.  So, just as Jesus contrasted the types of wealth, and the ownership of wealth, now Jesus contrasts the masters the servant must choose between.  God commands us to serve Him exclusively, and recognize that He alone owns all things.  As believers, we manage His assets and His wealth for His glory and benefit.  Try as you might, you can never spend some of your time serving wealth (say at work), and then try to serve God away from work.  Jesus said you simply cannot have two masters: wealth and God.  You must learn to work for God at all times, and He will lead you to be righteous at your work, and perform your job to the glory of God.

  So we learn more about the God and wealth today.   

     ●  Faithfulness touches everything entrusted to you.    Unfaithfulness stains everything entrusted to you, both in the small stuff and the big stuff.   You must choose.

    ●   God will only entrust true wealth to you after you have managed the wealth of others for the benefit of God. 

    ●  Everyday, you must choose which master you will serve: wealth or God.  You simply cannot have it both ways.  Either you will love God and hate wealth, or you will be devoted to wealth and hate God.  Choose to serve God today, and be a manager of God’s wealth entrusted to you, whether the wealth is great or small.   

Application for Today

        As I walk through life today, I have determined to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and manage my wealth for Him alone.  I want to love Him in the way I treat His wealth on earth, and use everything entrusted to me for His benefit and glory.  From here on out, I will not serve money, or any kind of wealth, because doing so will interfere with my love for Jesus Christ.  Whom will you serve today: wealth or God?

 

 

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