A good God and bad wealth

Luke 15:1-10

Heavenly people trump earthly wealth

The tax collectors and nonreligious Jews were remaining close enough to Jesus to listen to Him speak, Luke 15:1. The religious Jews, that being those in leadership, began to grumble among themselves at the behavior of Jesus. The leaders didn’t believe it was a good thing for Jesus to spend His time with people they viewed as unconcerned about the ways of God, Luke 15:2. Therefore, Father had an opportunity to speak to them about God’s economy in life (Luke 15:3), and the He did through the earthsuit of Jesus, John 6:38, 12:49.

A person can place a lot of emphasis on successful wealth management in this life, openly celebrating with friends whatever he or she defines as such, John 15:4-6, 8-9. God’s priority in wealth management is to help people previously unconcerned about the things of God change their minds about Him, Luke 15:7, 10; John 6:28-29. God openly celebrates with friends when one person changes his or her mind about God, Luke 15:7, 10. Even so, all the more does God celebrate the changed life than He does the ninety-nine other people who are good managers of earthly wealth, Luke 15:7, 10.


Luke 15:11-32

Wealth Management

Jesus continued to speak to the religious leaders about two brothers, siblings. Both, at the same time, received the wealth accumulated by their father, Luke 15:12. The younger son viewed this wealth as something meant for his personal pleasure. The older son viewed this wealth as a reward system for good behavior according to his definition, Luke 15:25-30. Both used wealth to serve themselves, with one son being perceived as more socially acceptable than the other. The father of the boys understood managing wealth is a means for celebrating when a child changes his or her mind about God, Luke 15:17-21, 32.


Luke 16:1-9

Manage wealth pours God upon others

Following the story about a loving father, and his sons who misunderstood and misapplied wealth, Jesus continued speaking about wealth to the people close enough to learn from Him, Luke 16:1. The religious leaders remained among those listening, Luke 16:14.

Jesus told of an employer whose employee had been accused of using the employer’s resources for things not intended by the employer, much as the younger son had actually done with his share of his father’s estate, Luke 16:1, 15:13. The employer required an account of the management of his resources from his employee, Luke 16:2. We do not know how the employee responded verbally, if at all, to the demand of the employer. But, we do know the thoughts and actions of the employee during and following the meeting, Luke 16:3-7.

The employee made a plan to continue mismanaging the employer’s wealth. The employee did so in a self-serving manner in an attempt to secure a future of favor for himself. The employer understood the employee’s response as an unrighteous deed violating the law, as well as an unjust response to the employer. The employer also understood the response as sensible and wise according to the error in the mind of an employee of poor character, Luke 16:8.


Secure a Future of Favor

Jesus told the people listening to Him to utilize wealth according to the same principle as the employee, secure a future of favor for yourself, Luke 16:9. However, unlike the self-serving motive of the employee, the believer is to think differently about wealth. It, like the employee, must not be allowed to be self-serving. Wealth, like the employee, will eventually fail in serving itself, Luke 16:9.

As Jesus explains, He speaks of wealth as if it is a person you can acquire friends through in this life. However, since wealth left to its own desire will only create a demand for itself (Luke 15:29), the believer must place boundaries on the friendship, boundaries born of heavenly understanding. Wealth is a self-promoting person of the same unrighteous, unjust deeds of the employee of poor character. The principle from Jesus is that a sensible and wise follower of Jesus can use wealth in this life to influence others — to change his or her mind about God! In this way wealth, rather than being left to its self-serving self, is managed through those following Jesus to build treasures into heaven, Luke 12:33, 16:9b.


Luke 16:10-12

Employee wealth, or it will employ you

With prudence and wisdom, those following Jesus are called to live a meaningful life. Therefore, both the accumulation and dispersion of wealth must be managed, Luke 16:9-13, Matthew 6:24. A follower of Jesus is to employ wealth, while realizing it is a less than excellent employee seeking to take advantage of you. In other words, if you do not learn to employ wealth, wealth will employ you. It will deprive you of the authentic ways of the Lord, Luke 16:12. The appetite of wealth, being for itself, is a reflection of its nature. The appetite of the Lord, searching for the lost, is a reflection of His nature, Luke 15. Earthly wealth is trying to deceive you. It is counterfeit. Jesus is not pretending. He is true, and worthy of your trust, James 1:17.


Luke 16:13-18

Jesus norms or part-time values

In this life, it is the nature of those following Jesus to function with some tension towards earthly wealth. No follower can submit to the power in both, anymore than a trustworthy employee can follow conflicting interests of the employer and his or her own.

Employing wealth is a normal relationship to wealth for the follower of Jesus. That which is meant to be Jesus norms cannot be part-time values. At best, you will love the one and hate the other for the stress it presses upon you. You may worship a trustworthy leader in Jesus, or a self-promoting one in wealth. Wealth can have this much influence, seeking only to be a god among men, Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13.


Preconceived Ideas can block the Way

The religious leaders believed God was not seeking man, but that God might accept us if we were but like the prodigal son. In this story they heard what they believed, failing to recognize Jesus explain the seeking and compassion for the son preceded his words and actions of repentance, Luke 15:20-21. Their preconceived error made it easy for them to maintain their dismissal of Jesus as not understanding what He is talking about, Luke 16:14.

Because the religious leaders valued self-promotion, they valued the self-promoting qualities of wealth more than they valued others responding to God. They continued to live extreme self-shining lives to maintain their perceived value, according to, and among the ways of men. God is not fooled by this display. Serving wealth only encourages an appetite for more. To worship wealth is to ignore the true nature of both wealth and God, according to the real God, Luke 16:5.

Having noted the dismissal of Jesus by the religious leaders, Jesus tells them people are trying to make the way of Jesus accommodate his or her way of living, Luke 16:16. Yet, all of His Word will be fulfilled in the Person of Jesus rather than in the wisdom of men, Luke 16:17, James 3:13-18. And, just as physical adultery is to be married to two women, so it is spiritual adultery to try and maintain allegiances to conflicting ways of living, Luke 16:18.


Luke 16:19-31

Do you need to change your mind?

This habit of giving your time to wealth without wisdom will not be overcome through persuasion. Learning to employee wealth requires more than information. Employing wealth will come as we choose to reason through what Jesus has already said. The conflicting economies of Jesus and earthly wealth seek your devotion.

The religious leaders did not believe God actually searched for a relationship with men. The preconceived ideas of the religious leaders made it easy for them to dismiss Jesus as irrelevant in what He was talking about, Luke 16:14. Do you relate to wealth according to your belief, or according to that of Jesus? Do you need to change your mind, Matthew 6:19-21, Luke 16:19-31?