The Common English Bible leads off chapter 16 with the paragraph title, "Faithfulness with money." Did you know that money is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible? If you're so inclined to begin looking for all these references, I defy you to find just one verse that views debt in a positive way while you're at it. It is as if God and the writers of the Bible anticipated that we would have significant problems with money and possessions.
Jesus himself has strong words about money and possessions in our reading this week:
"Whoever is faithful with little is also faithful with much, and the one who is dishonest with little is also dishonest with much. If you haven’t been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? If you haven’t been faithful with someone else’s property, who will give you your own? No household servant can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." (Luke 16:10-13, CEB, emphasis mine)Much can be written about the two parables Jesus uses in this chapter to teach his disciples and the Pharisees about money. I think, however, I am going to keep it simple and sum things up this way:
- God is just in His judgment and generous in His mercy and grace. No one can outgive God. After all, did you happen to hear the good news this past week about God's ultimate gift of salvation?
- Let us remember that we help spread this good news, in part, through our faithfulness with money. John Wesley had something to say about this in his sermon, The Use of Money, which can be summarized by this statement, "Having first gained all you can and secondly saved all you can, then give all you can."
- The point is, we are a people who have been given much. And so, much is expected. At a minimum we should all strive to give back to God in proportion to what we've been given. If every Christian around the world gave in such a way, imagine what could be done for God's kingdom on earth. I'll conclude this week by sharing this video that goes a long way toward illustrating what can happen when we are faithful with our money, giving toward God's purposes in the world and serving the least, the last, and the lost.