The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. -Luke 16:14
How Jesus Loved People
So what were the Pharisees sneering at? Jesus had just made the statement, “You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13)
And the Pharisees loved money.
So they sneered.
You know what, I’ve noticed many of us Christians have a tendency to tap dance around the topic of greed. Maybe that’s partly because of it’s subtlety. We all need money to live, right? But how do you know when you’ve stepped over the line? “When someone commits adultery,” says Timothy Keller, “they don’t say, ‘Oh, hey, wait a second, you’re not my wife!'” But when we get greedy, sometimes, it’s hard to recognize it. But honestly, that’s probably not the main reason we tap dance around the issue. We’ll get to that later.
When it comes to greed in the bible, it might surprise you to know that, with one exception (Solomon), God’s heroes didn’t struggle with it. Most of them struggled with other sins, but not greediness. And of course Jesus never fell into any sin, including the sin of greed. Near as I can tell, Jesus spent money on himself for the clothes on his back–and that was about it. His money went to others. He was generous.
Love Like Jesus
My wife and I are in the vacation rental business and in property management and development. There’s a couple we know, who are also in the vacation rental business, who had a friend who loved to hike in Yosemite. And this couple has a vacation house near there. This couple, they’re not rich, they have to rent it out to make the mortgage payment. But they let their friend who loved to hike Yosemite rent the house at a big discount, even though it was a hardship. Just a few minutes ago I found out their friend died, suddenly. His funeral will be held the day this post is published. He was diagnosed with cancer four weeks ago. Now he’s in his eternal dwelling.
Jesus, shortly before his statement about God and money, told the parable about a money manager who wasted his rich master’s possessions. Just before this guy was about to be fired, he called in his master’s debtors and forgave a big percentage of debt for each of them. He did it so he would be welcomed into their homes after he lost his job. (Luke 16:1-8)
In the next verse Jesus told us to do the same. He said we’re to “…use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9, NIV) Or as another translation puts it, “…make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon…” (Luke 16:9, NKJV)
So how do we do that? How do we make friends with unrighteous mammon? Here are just a few suggestions: You can tithe. You can give extra to your church. You can give to missions, such as Compassion International, or World Vision, or Global Media Outreach. And you can give to friends. You never know when one of them might move from the earth to their eternal dwelling, like the guy who liked to hike Yosemite. The point is to give away your money, so you’ll gain friends in eternity, so you’ll be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
No you can’t take it with you, but apparently you can send it ahead.
Jesus Wasn’t Much of a Tap Dancer
At the beginning of this post I said we tap dance around the issue of greed because of its subtlety. But there’s another reason. The main reason I think many of us tap dance around this issue is for the same reason the Pharisees sneered–we simply love money.
But Jesus wasn’t much of a tap dancer. The bible is perfectly clear: the love of money is bad, and generosity is good. (1 Timothy 6:10)
So don’t be someone who sneers at Jesus’ teachings about serving God and not money. To love like Jesus, make your heavenly Father the ultimate in your life. Seek God’s kingdom first. Use your money to show God’s love to others. (Matthew 6:33)
That’s what Jesus did.
You can too.
Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg—I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
“‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
[You might also like: Love Like Jesus–Give Like Jesus]
[References: Timothy Keller Reason for God? Belief in an Age of Skepticism – Youtube]