What is the meaning of Jesus’ iconic words that he coined when He spoke of “true riches” in Luke chapter sixteen? This is what I wish to explore in this series of articles. This is what I wish to seek the Lord for understanding over the next few days.
The subject of riches and money has long since plagued the church in many ways. Full scale denominational wars have been waged over it’s doctrine. People have used the prosperity teachings of the bible to unjustly swindle people out of money above and beyond the tithe, while at the same time others have cheated people out of God’s blessings and God’s best for other people’s lives because they’ve championed doctrines of demons which are completely unbiblical. Making poverty out to be a merit of Christ rather than the demon that it is evil. Just as evil as a minister who takes advantage of people through his or her spiritual position of authority.
But overall there’s been a general feeling in many circles still to this day concerning money that can be described as taboo. But it was Jesus that openly talked about money and did not apologize for it. It was the Lord who spoke about money and it’s righteous handling over and over again in scripture, and as I often surmise, if the love of money is indeed the root of all evil wouldn’t it behoove us to understand money from God’s point of view and learn how to better steward it so that we are not overtaken by this great evil? You can’t get away from it. In order to survive, in order to live (unless you’re a part of some monastic order) you’re going to have to handle money. Might as well learn how to do it God’s way. Might as well learn the difference between unrighteous mammon and true riches and how the proper handling of one affects the quality and quantity of the other in your life. Let’s dive into this!
THE RIGHT FOCUS OF TRUE RICHES
Jesus instructed us to focus on the storing up of heavenly treasures rather than that of earthly ones (Matt.6:19-21), but I propose that this was indeed a matter of priorities and not a matter of choosing one over the other. The exercise of the spirit may have greater value because it’s fruit extends into eternity, but Paul still admitted that bodily exercise profits (1 Tim.4:8). Jesus may have taught us to prioritize storing up treasure in heaven rather than upon the earth, but that doesn’t mean we should be foolish and not store up/save treasure or money here upon the earth. In fact, the bible admonishes us to do so as wise men (Prov.21:20). The issue is priority, and when you understand the wisdom in focusing on the true riches, money will never be a problem again. Money will be something that’s attracted to you, as well as other treasures like favor and opportunity, because of the blessing of the Lord; because you’ve learned to walk in his ways. Like Solomon before you, if you seek true riches such as a wise discerning heart, money will be added to you through the pleasure of the Lord (1 Kings 3:4-14).
10 “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.
11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?
13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.â€
We often hear in the church today, when someone seeks to defend the righteousness in gaining wealth, the emphasis made on not misrepresenting Paul’s famous words about money written to his son Timothy in (1 Tim.6:10). Paul said that it was the “love of money” that was the root of all evil, not money itself (which is an important distinction). Notice how in this passage above taken, from Jesus’ words in the gospel of Luke, that the Pharisees were “lovers of money” (Lk.16:14). They were at the root of much of the evil in Israel at that time because they were lovers of money disguised in religious and pious costumes. I find it interesting how some of the greatest lovers of money, who live from the root of evil in the human heart, are so often found hiding behind the religious and spiritual garb. It is indeed a wicked thing to be clothed in spiritual representation while your heart is eaten up with greed.
In discussing this matter Jesus was addressing these Pharisees, these lovers of money. That is important to remember when reflecting upon these truths. Target audience does matter when it comes to context. But these truths have stood the test of time, and yes they do apply to us all, because anyone of us can become just like the Pharisees at any time if we are not diligent to keep our hearts, from which flows the issues of life (Prov.4:23). There is no temptation that overtakes anyone except that which is common to man (1 Cor.10:13).
Jesus directs us toward the true riches, but He clearly states that “faithfulness in the least” which is what He calls “unrighteous mammon” (or money) is important for qualifying to have true riches committed to your trust (Lk.16:11). Very interesting. We are called by the Lord to manage, steward, and even grow this unrighteous mammon, even though it has an intrinsic power attached to it which has been proven to corrupt even the most noble since the dawn of time. This mammon allures people into loving it and thus detracting from the priority of love which God gives us in the two greatest commandments, upon which all of the law and prophets hang upon (Matt.22:40-41): to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, & strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Once again, as I stated before, the issue with money is always priority. The priority of our lives must remain love, that is love toward God and love demonstrated toward others. Any action taken with money must advance this priority, this priority must ultimately remain the primary motivation for our desire to wield riches.
As I will outline in subsequent articles, true riches are composed of many things such as wisdom, understanding, knowledge, spiritual gifts, as well as sacrifice. We must learn to righteously steward both the true riches and the unrighteous mammon if we are to truly rule and reign with Christ. Training for reigning begins in this life. Our judgment and governing in the church now prepares us to judge angels and the entire earth in the future (1 Cor.6:3). If we’re faithful with our talents (money) then God will give us charge over cities (Lk.19:17). And if we learn to truly nurture and grow the true riches hidden in Christ we will be restored to that noble heart and excellent spirit of our Lord which he’s calling us all into.
In His Service,
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