FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
GOD OR MAMMON – 2
November 7, 2015
Today’s gospel: Luke 16:9-15
Today’s secular world loves money, just like “the Pharisees, who loved money” (v.14a). Now people will not admit it, and justify their striving to have more money as the way to provide for their families. True enough. But you see that for many, it is never enough. With families fully provided for, they are still at it, making more money.
Money is a hard taskmaster, and Jesus warns Christians about this. “No servant can serve two masters.” (v.13a). Jesus our Master demands our all. We are to love God with our whole mind, heart, soul and strength. We are to live and die for Christ. But money also demands allegiance and devotion, nay worship. But as devoted Christians, can we not have both? Well, know the reality when it comes to God versus wealth or possessions. “He will either hate one or love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” (v.13b). How many times have we seen brethren who serve the Lord, and want to serve the Lord more and so ask for more money so they can focus on serving the Lord more, but end up leaving their service because there is now more money to be made? Jesus says it plainly: “You cannot serve God and mammon.” (v.13c).
So are we to totally shun money? No, for it has its purpose. Even our mission can stall due to a lack of money. The key is to give God our all, while making use of money, putting money at the service of God. “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (v.9). Dishonest wealth is literally “mammon of iniquity.” Mammon in Greek drawn from Hebrew means “that in which one trusts.” So money has a purpose and is in fact essential for mission. But money, seemingly neutral, can easily turn into mammon. Then it can easily transition into dishonest dealings (to make more money), and finally turns one away from God.
Now money is provided us by God in order to provide for our needs and to fund our mission. Money being the most important for the world, for Christians it is important only as it relates to accomplishing the purposes of God. It is a small matter, an aside. But there are great matters, such as evangelizing the world, such as bringing salvation to all, such us doing divine work. Money is entrusted to us precisely for these purposes. We are financial stewards. Now here it is: “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones” (v.10a). God entrusts His people with His divine work, the all-important work of bringing the salvation won by Jesus on the cross into the lives of people. We are sent, we are commissioned. But if we do not act as proper stewards of our finances, then how can God give us great fruit in our evangelization efforts? Thus we must give not only our time and talent, but also our treasure. “If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?” (v.11). If we are not giving enough financial support to our mission, then how can we expect a rich harvest?
The prescription for true financial stewardship is a tithe, that is, 10% of our income. Everything that we have and own actually belongs to God. But God just asks a tenth to fund His mission. Is that not an outrageously good deal? We fund God’s mission, and in the end we reap the fruit, including entry into heaven. However, “if you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?” (v.12). Salvation is already yours, a free gift of Jesus to you. But it is there for you to lose. You don’t use what God has entrusted to you to fund His work? How can you expect to be rewarded?
I pray you will not be like the Pharisees, who “heard all these things and sneered at him.” (v.14b). I pray that your god will not be mammon, “for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.” (v.15c). I hope that, especially for leaders, you do not just look good and sound good in front of God’s people, but are actually being true stewards, rather than robbing God of what belongs to him. “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts” (v.15b). And God knows the amount of money that you keep in your wallet and withhold from Him and His mission. You have not given Him what is His; beware that He does not give you what is yours.
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