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Jesus: Use earthly wealth for heavenly purposes

September 28, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Luke 16:9-15

9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves so that when it’s gone, you will be welcomed into the eternal homes.
10 “Whoever is faithful with little is also faithful with much, and the one who is dishonest with little is also dishonest with much. 11 If you haven’t been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 If you haven’t been faithful with someone else’s property, who will give you your own? 13 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.”
14 The Pharisees, who were money-lovers, heard all this and sneered at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves before other people, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued by people is deeply offensive to God.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

DO YOU KNOW?
This week’s GPS continues to focus on the Bible reasons for Resurrection’s current “Generation to Generation” campaign. For more information as you prayerfully consider what commitment you want to make next weekend, click here.

Israel in Jesus’ day (like most countries then, and today) had a small “upper crust” of very rich people, and many who were very poor. Jesus’ message in today’s reading was controversial (verse 14). Jesus said it is impossible to serve God and wealth. That didn’t match the values of wealthy religious leaders. Most of them saw their wealth as proof that God was especially blessing them. They sneered at Jesus’ challenge. Jesus replied, “What is highly valued by people is deeply offensive to God.”

  • The Message paraphrased verse 14 to say the religious leaders “rolled their eyes, dismissing [Jesus] as hopelessly out of touch.” * Scholar N.T. Wright wrote, “Money is not a possession, it’s a trust: God entrusts property to people and expects it to be used to his glory and the welfare of his children, not for private glory or glamour.” ** Does Jesus’ teaching about worldly wealth and true riches seem “out of touch” to you? Does it challenge you? Does it inspire you?
  • Jesus didn’t say we “shouldn’t” serve both God and money, but that we “cannot” do that. Our hearts can only have one ultimate master, one supreme goal. The Greek word translated “wealth” meant all types of material goods. When you face ethical choices or career decisions, what determines your course: God’s values, or the material and social payoffs you expect?
Prayer

Heavenly Master, your greatest blessing in my life is not my bank account, home or car. It is your eternal love for me. Help me to grow in my willingness to use all my other resources to bless others. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

If you don’t shop at Aldi, you’re missing out. I highly recommend their specialty cheese selection, and you can’t buy a better spiral ham for your holidays. The best part? Everything is significantly cheaper at Aldi. They keep their prices low by offering limited items and cutting out some of the staffing costs. You bag your own groceries, and you return your own carts. How do they get shoppers to return their carts? A quarter deposit. You insert a quarter to release a cart. When you return the cart, you get your quarter back. It’s a brilliant move on their part. And Aldi shoppers know the game and help each other out. People will exchange quarters for carts in the parking lots so that others don’t have to walk the carts back.

As I was walking out of Aldi the other day, another woman was returning her cart. She saw a couple walking in and offered to give them her cart for no quarter in return. The couple didn’t need the cart, so she returned it to the first cart stall and said, “That’s fine. I’ll just leave it here to surprise the next person.” She left the quarter in the cart, so the next person wouldn’t need to deposit a quarter to get the cart. It’s a simple gesture, but a really nice one. As I unloaded my groceries in my car, I turned back to watch the carts so I could witness the next person experience the small surprise. I watched as a man returned his cart to the second stall and retrieved his quarter. He then turned to the cart in the first stall and took the quarter from that cart as well. The woman had meant for that quarter to be a blessing to a stranger who needed a cart, and he took it! I thought, “Sir, that’s not your quarter to take! How rude!” I couldn’t believe someone would do that. He knew very well that the quarter wasn’t meant for him. It’s not even about the quarter, it’s about taking away the blessing that was never his to begin with. The gall!

It makes me wonder how God views us when we navigate our financial resources. God has given his people plans: plans to do justice, to spread his message, to bring light and hope to the world–not only for this generation but for the generations to come. The Church is a primary vehicle for carrying out this vision. God invites us into this journey by asking us to set aside our financial resources to be used for these purposes. God essentially says, “I’ve set this money aside to be a blessing for others.” When we don’t use our money in this way, it’s like we’re taking away God’s intended blessing. We’re taking the quarter that was never meant for us.

Resurrection is in a time of prayer as each family considers what they will be committing financially for the next year and for the building projects that will create spaces to bless those in the years to come. My encouragement for each of us is that we look at our income and consider what portion of that is not actually ours, but what belongs to God. What is in our bank accounts that God is setting aside to carry out his vision? And as we reflect on this, let’s not be tempted to take what was never ours to begin with. God has plans for our resources, plans that are far greater than the material desires of this world. When we understand that, we get to experience the joy of bringing hope and redemption.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* From Eugene H. Peterson, The Message. NavPress, 1993-2002.
** Wright, N. T., Luke for Everyone (New Testament for Everyone) (p. 196). SPCK. Kindle Edition.