Todays readings.. 1 Chronicles 6, Ezekiel 19, Luke 16
Today we read the most challenging of the parables of Jesus – yet its’ primary meaning is unmistakable. Jesus uttered it in relation to our purpose in life – how it comes down to one of two things. Jesus sums it all up in today’s reading in Luke. “No servant can serve two masters … he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” He ends by bluntly saying, “You cannot serve God and money” [16 v.13]. What is it to “serve” money?
This is not the most common Greek word for ‘serve’, in writing Acts Luke only uses the word in Ch. 20 v.19 when he quoted Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders (and Luke was with him at the time), he told them, “You yourselves know how I lived …. serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials … I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable …” This was serving indeed!
In writing to the Romans about issues over the law of Moses Paul says, “but now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so now we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.” [7 v.6] But the commitment involved in this kind of serving is parallel; it is the same! It is most interesting to note that the one place where John used this Greek word in his gospel (8 v.33) it is translated as “enslaved”!
Those Jesus sees as serving money he sees as being enslaved to it. It is the ‘be all’ and ‘end all’ of their thinking. Today, it is a matter of the things money can ‘buy,’ the pleasure and pride of owning the best of everything, of taking fabulous holidays, etc., with a token gesture toward others to ease their conscience, even fitting in a visit to church.
Those who serve God, see how temporary and misleading is the expectation of rewards of serving money. People who decide to serve God have a “bigger mind”, i.e. a bigger vision of thought. That famous chapter of Hebrews 11 selects the example of Moses when, surrounded by wealth as the adopted grandson of Pharaoh, ”he chose to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt” [v.25-26]
What do we consider to be of greater wealth today? Less and less would make Christ their choice. Some, foolishly, try to have it both ways. If we are “lukewarm” – as did those at Laodicea, let us remember the message of Jesus to them – read Revelation 3 v.15-16.