We all have money and we all have stuff. We have also all been tricked into the worlds way of thinking about our possessions. The world says we need more and we believe it. How many of us have stood before a full closet of clothes bemoaning the fact that we have nothing to wear? The world says old is not good you need some things new and we agree. How often do we buy new things even though the old ones work fine but look a little worn (electronics, furniture, shoes, kitchen items). The world says you have worked hard for your money you deserve to spend it on yourself and we listen and become greedy, selfish and stingy.
Luke 16 is all about the love of money. Wealth, in and of itself, is not bad. Luke himself was a doctor and would probably have been well off. Possibly one of the wealthiest of Jesus’ disciples. Other people in the Bible were wealthy, like Abraham, but they knew the place money and wealth had compared to godliness.
The Pharisees, on the other, despite all their religiosity, were very money minded. They wanted to look good and believed that wealth was a sign that one was blessed by God.
So the stories that Jesus tells were designed to expose what was inside the Pharisees hearts, specifically in regards to money. One of these stories is about a very wealthy man who was covered in the best clothes and lived in luxury while a very poor man, Lazarus, was covered in sores laying at the rich man’s gate hoping for some scraps of food.
Both of these men die. Lazarus goes to heaven and the rich man goes to hell. While in hell the rich man asks that Lazarus wet his lips with some water. When he realizes that all is lost he asks that Lazarus be allowed to warn his brothers. Abraham says “They have the word of God, that is what they need to listen to”. But the rich man doesn’t think that is enough. He thinks that if his brothers could see someone come back from the dead then they would repent but Abraham knows the condition of man’s heart. He tells him that if they don’t believe God’s word then they won’t believe even if someone comes back from the dead.
A real man named Lazarus did come back from the dead and the Pharisees did not believe. Jesus himself was raised back to life and people have continued to reject him.
People’s hearts are set on the wrong things and therefore do not believe or follow God. We can also fall into this same trap. We become preoccupied with the pleasures of this life over the life to come. We are more interested in the gifts then the giver. How do we avoid this pitfall? We must place money and our possessions in their proper place.
We must always remind ourselves where all the good things we have come from (James). But we must also look beyond the material things and realize that it is God who has given us and our spouses the talents, brains and desires to get an education or find a job that brings in the money that allows us to buy things. Is it possible that God allowed all of these things to fall into place so that we could help others?
If we want to curb our [ungodly] passions we must remember that all things are made for us, with the purpose that we may know and acknowledge their Author. We should praise his kindness toward us in earthly matters by giving him thanks. – John Calvin
2. Stay Thankful
Thankfulness will keep us humble and it will protect us from abusing or misusing the good gifts that God has given us. It will keep us from turning our material possession and our money into idols. We must protect ourselves from stinginess as well as wastefulness and being thankful will help us.
3. Look for opportunities
We must look for opportunities to serve with our finances as well as with our material belongings. Could you bless a missionary with a package? Are there people in your lives whom you could spoil with a home cooked meal and an evening of fellowship? Maybe we can donate items in our house that are sitting around collecting dust. Don’t hold on to things thinking that maybe, one day, when the kids are grown, you could use it again. Trust that God will provide for you when the times comes and give those things away to someone who can use them now.
God has called us to love and care for others. The things we own and the money we have will not last forever, but what we do with them can have eternal consequences both for good or for bad.
Looking to Jesus,