FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
GOD OR MAMMON
November 8, 2014
Today’s gospel: Luke 16:9-15
You accept Jesus as master and Lord. You also accept Biblical teachings about detachment, self-emptying, sharing of resources, perhaps tithing (do you?). You claim not to love money, but only to love God. But how do your actions stack up to what you profess to believe? Might you be acting in pharisaical ways? “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him.” (v.14). Do you, in effect, perhaps without intending it, actually sneer at Jesus?
* Do you neglect to give a full tithe, that is, ten percent, back to God?
* Do you forgo the opportunity to serve in order to do more secular work and earn more money (assuming it is not done out of dire need)?
* Do you stop giving money to your community or church because you have some unresolved issues or do not like some of your leaders?
* Do you spend too much on yourself, on wants rather than needs?
* Do you neglect to use your financial resources to help the poor?
Now this thing about money is a serious issue, so do not just brush it aside (more convenient that way, right?). First, money is a direct and very strong competitor to God. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (v.13). Now you will of course say that you only love and serve God and not mammon. But go back to the questions above, and be honest.
So is money bad? Is money to be shunned completely? No. Money serves a good purpose. Like providing for our family. Like supporting Christian work. Like helping the poor. So we can make use of money. But look not to selfishness and materialism, but to how to promote the Kingdom 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). Money serves you as you serve God.
We have been entrusted both with money and with the work of the Kingdom. We are stewards of both. Do we use money to promote the Kingdom? Or do we neglect the Kingdom because we are busily enjoying our money? Is it Jesus who takes hold of our life and priorities, or is it money? Can we continue to be stewards of God’s grace, depended on to do divine work, working for the very salvation of souls? Then we must subjugate money, and not the other way around. “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones” (v.10a).
God entrusts the work of the Kingdom to His people. He provides money for mission, but do you keep that money, that God is providing through you, in your pockets? God sends you on mission, but are you not responding because you are too busy making more money? God wants to help His beloved poor, but are you spending the money intended for them just on yourself instead? “If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?” (v.11). How tragic that we cling on to false wealth, when we have been entrusted with true wealth!
Again, go back to the questions and answer them truthfully. Why? Your eternal life is at stake! Since you cannot serve God and mammon, have you in effect chosen to serve mammon? What truly is in your heart? “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.” (v.15). You value money, to the extent that it assumes great importance in your life. God thinks otherwise.
So if we serve mammon rather than God, then we are acting against the interests of God. Then we are remiss in promoting His Kingdom on earth. Then we are not acting as true and faithful stewards. Then we preclude mission because we kept the money intended for it to ourselves. How then can we expected to be rewarded? “If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?” (v.12). Money is from God, to be used for His purposes. His purpose is that all experience salvation. That includes us. This is “what is yours.” But if you do not give to God what is His, then who will give you what is yours?
Mammon or God? Consider it carefully, for your response will determine if you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
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