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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Are You Faithful with a Little?

Luke 16:10-13 (ESV) 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

There is one word that most congregations do not want to hear. They tell their preachers to stay away from that word. Many preachers who are compelled to speak the Word of God on this word often warn their congregations the week before they preach on it. They tell them to stay away if they don't want to hear it. Many of these so-called believers will.

The word is money. and most preachers would rather mention politics than money because their people are more likely to fire them for speaking about the proper use of money than for telling them who they should vote for at the next election. The first is a matter of the Word of God which cuts through to the heart of the sinner. The latter (telling them who to vote for) is mostly opinion and can be taken or left behind.

Money in itself is not evil or unrighteous. It is merely a tool which can be used for good or evil. A firearm is neither good or evil. It can bring home a family's meal or it can take the life of another person. It is only a tool.

Jesus was speaking Aramaic though the original text is presented in Greek. All translations carry a measure of interpretation though, in this case, the translator is the Holy Spirit. The word translated for "dishonest" in the NIV is the word "adikos" in Greek. The word means unjust or dishonest. It is not necessary to be dishonest in order to be unjust with money. A person can pay someone for an assasination. The act is unjust but may not be dishonest. Therefore, I think the better translation for the sake of English is "unrighteous." This word carries the flavor of being unjust and can include dishonest. (As soon as I say the NIV is a weak version, I find a passage where it seems to have gotten closer to the original meaning than any other. So, this time I will not say it.)

The unrighteous use of money means that the money was not used in the "right" way. The proper use of all money is for the glory of God. That is our whole purpose and all that we do and use should include God's glory. This is not a passage to tell us why we don't have a lot of money. It tells us why we don't have that which is more precious than money. It tells us that the unrighteous use of money will result in receiving nothing of that which is precious.

So, what are these true riches? They are the things of God which most people do not understand as precious at all. It is God's word being revealed through the Spirit. It is the faith necessary to bring you to salvation. It is the faith necessary to walk in the peace of God when all hell is breaking around you. It is the faith that knows without doubt that God will sustain you even when there is no evidence of it. It is hearing God speak clearly so that you know what to do when there seems to be nothing that you can do. It is the joy that comes from the inside of the believer which can be known even if you are persecuted for your faith.

Money is a little thing. The problem comes when you make it large. Its importance will keep you from the true riches that God has planned of you. You cannot serve God and money. There can be only one God.

Thus, many churches die for the lack of the word of God. Neither their preachers nor their congregations have been faithful with that which was little. So, they never got that which was truly precious.

1 comment:

Anthony Chia said...

Well, I hope you are NOT one of them, who would warn the congregation beforehand!

In this part of the world, as far as I know, the only strong taboo is tithing! Honestly, a shepherd must NOT just be in the office of a pastor only, at times, he has to be the "hell-fire" prophet as well. Dad cannot be "soft" all the time, or the children will walk all over him! Ultimately God can only love men unto righteousness (`ahab love). As undershepherd of God, we too try to love the sheep unto righteousness.

God loves you, and He is glad you are shepherding His sheep. God bless you. Anthony Chia