Saturday, March 2, 2013

Luke 16 - Riches and Faithfulness

LINK: Luke 16

BACKGROUND


Jesus tells the parable of the . . . 

162. Shrewd manager: Luke 16:1-18

Jesus taught His disciples that they must use all that they have for kingdom purposes. The rich man accused the manager of his estate of being irresponsible (16:2) so he was fired. He was incapable of being a common laborer. So, he made friends with all the people who owed the rich man money so that they might hire him later. The rich man had a more favorable opinion after this act and called him "wise"! What he did was not necessarily good, but he was commended for planning ahead. 

Remember that Jesus is in the "Discipleship School" mode. He was trying to teach His disciples that they would have to live in a world of nonbelievers. So, He taught them to use money for the purpose of drawing people into the kingdom (16:8-9). They should act in shrewd (the Greek word here means "wise") ways. I have more to reflect on about this below. 

Jesus said if they were faithful in this "little thing" of money then God could trust them with even greater things than this. Jesus calls us all to be good stewards of our money, possessions, talents, and time for His glory!

Jesus told his disciples (while the Pharisees were listening) that they could not serve both God and money. Previously, He had said "let money serve kingdom purposes" rather than letting money control your purposes. The Pharisees were lovers of money. They equated a person's wealth with the blessing of God and righteousness. Consequently, they responded pretty negatively! Jesus diffused them by encouraging them to let God be the judge. Again kingdom values and traditional values were in conflict. 

It seems so random that Jesus threw in something about divorce here, but He was trying to say that the Pharisees did not live according to the Law in all things because of their loose view of divorce. Divorce and remarriage are covered more extensively in Matthew 19:1-12 and Mark 10:1-12.

163. Rich man and the beggar: Luke 16:19-31
Death comes equally to us all and makes us all equal when it comes.  The ashes of an oak in the chimney are no epitaph of that oak to tell me how high or how large that was; it tells me not what flocks it sheltered while it stood nor what men it hurt when it fell.  
 John Donne (1572-1631), Anglican minister and poet
Since the Pharisees considered wealth to be an indication of righteousness, Jesus told this parable. The beggar (Lazarus - no relation to the one in John 11) is rewarded, and the rich man is punished for his lack of compassion for Lazarus. He was not wise in the use of his financial blessings in helping those in need which was in violation of God's Law (Leviticus 25; Exodus 23:11; Deuteronomy 14:28-29). 

Apparently the word for hell here is hadēs and refers to "the abode of the unsaved dead prior to the great white throne of judgment" [Revelation 20:11-15], and "Abraham's side" refers to "a place of paradise for Old Testament believers at the time of death" [Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4] (The Bible Knowledge Commentary on Luke 16:22-23). 

Warren Wiersbe comments on hell:
He [the rich man] did not say, “I’m glad my brothers will also come here. We’ll have a wonderful time together!” Occasionally you hear a lost person say, “Well, I don’t mind if I go to hell. I’ll have a lot of company!” But there is no friendship or “company” in hell! Hell is a place of torment and loneliness. It is not an eternal New Year’s Eve party at which sinners have a good time doing what they used to do on earth. 
(The Bible Exposition Commentary, Lk 16:14) 
It was too late for the rich man, but he wanted Lazarus to be sent to warn his brothers (but not the whole world, indicating how selfish he was), but if the Old Testament could not convince them, even a man rising from the dead would not convince them. His wealth could not redeem them there (Psalm 49:6-9). Again, the rich man (and the Pharisees) did not see the signs of the Old Testament Scarlet Thread of Redemption that pointed to Jesus, and even raising Lazarus from the dead (coming in John 11:38-44) would not convince them. 

There is no record how they responded to this in the Luke account. 

REFLECTION

Wisdom in the use of money is such a testimony to the watching, unbelieving world. Sadly, many believers do not always have wisdom when it comes to their finances, and they go into debt that is no different from the world.

I heartily recommend the tools and resources at Dave Ramsey.com. We took our kids and other middle/school high school students through their Youth Course, and it was fabulous! I feel like my kids can resist all the appeals to apply for a credit card now. (And believe me, when your child turns 18, they are BOMBARDED with them!)

We are not in debt, but this passage has convicted me about being more intentional about investing. Even though my brain does not think this way, I need to be shrewd (wise). This is "Baby Step #4" in Dave Ramsey's "7 Baby Steps."  

Maybe you need to grow in the area of giving. I read this quote today in The Daily Walk: "Give according to your income lest God make your income according to your giving." This is food for thought. 

With today's tough financial climate, many people are walking away from their mortgages. Here is an interesting article that addresses this issue. What may seem "logical" because everyone else is doing it is not always biblical and wise:

Is it Wrong to Walk Away from Your Mortgage?

There is a reference in the article about a 12:45 minute segment on 60 Minutes. That is worth watching:

Mortgages: Walking Away 

APPLICATION

The Daily Walk has a threefold test of faithfulness based on Luke 16:

1. Are you faithful in little things (verse 10)? . . . little promises? . . . small amounts of time, talent, and responsibility? 
2. Are you faithful with money (verse 11)? God's Word has much to say on money matters because in God's estimation, money matters. 
3. Are you faithful in the affairs of others (verse 12)? Do you treat their possessions and reputations as you treat your own? 
Take the "Trustworthiness Checkup" for yourself; then enlist the aid of your spouse, your child, or a friend in helping you work on an area that is weak.  
(October 22, 2008, p. 27)
PRAYER

Lord, make us wise with our material wealth and faithful in the little things so that a watching world might see the light of Jesus in us. Amen. 
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