14The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. (Luke 16, 14-15).
Yes, what people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. This is a pretty strong statement from Lord Jesus. It really did annoy the Pharisees who were listening to Him and they knew very well that Jesus was criticising them for their dishonest lifestyle.
In Luke 16, Jesus shares the parable of a shrewd Manager who mis-appropriated the wealth of a rich man who had given him the responsibility to manage it. Here, what the shrewd Manager did was a complete breach of trust. Yes, for the sake of money he acted very dishonestly; betraying his master who trusted him with his wealth.
So, a question that arises here is – Why did this Manger act so wickedly with regard to the wealth that he was entrusted with? it was because he loved money more than anything else. His love of money is what led him to be dishonest to his Master who trusted him whole-heartedly.
Here, by using this parable of the shrewd Manager, Jesus was trying to depict a clear picture of the society that he found himself in. A society that loved wealth and riches more than God. In fact, those days the Israelites were willing to go to any extent to amass wealth; the Pharisees were a classic example for this. Jesus saw their hypocrisy and decided to criticize them in public.
As you know these pharisees were living a very hypocritical lifestyle. They knew the Word of God well and taught it sincerely. However, they did not live by those very Words of God that they taught.
They urged the masses to love the LORD their God with all their heart but they themselves did not love God. They taught about the importance of being honest but they themselves were very dishonest in their lives. The following verses of Prophet Micah gives us a glimpse of this dishonest lifestyle the Israelites were living those days.
1Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it. 2They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud people of their homes, they rob them of their inheritance. (Micah 2, 1-2)
8Lately my people have risen up like an enemy. You strip off the rich robe from those who pass by without a care, like men returning from battle. 9You drive the women of my people from their pleasant homes. You take away my blessing from their children forever.( Micah 2, 8-9)
As you see above, most of the people in the society were willing to commit any evil for the sake of gaining wealth. Justice and righteousness did not matter to them anymore. Both the sheep and the shepherds alike became corrupted and dishonest. They were worshipping Mammon while claiming to be the children of Abraham.
But do you think our own society is different from that of this ancient Israeli Society? No, we are not different; in fact, the contemporary Christian world loves wealth and riches more than those Pharisees. Those who call themselves the spiritual descendants of Abraham are more dishonest and shrewder than those people that Jesus confronted.
Today; among those who stand on the pulpit and sit in the pew, how many can we identify as the ones who stand for the righteousness and justice of God Almighty? How many are not greedy for gain? How many are honest and kind to each other? Very few.
But why it is just a few? It is because majority of the believers, though they claim to be born-again, still follow the world. Of course; following the world means loving the world and living for the world and also it requires loving money more than God.
Saints, I am not saying that money is evil; no, there is nothing inherently evil in money. However, if you love money more than God, then, surely it can lead you to commit all kinds of evil deeds. Many of the compromises that we see in the contemporary church today is the result of people loving money more than God.
As Jesus said; we can serve only one master; we cannot serve God and Mammon at the same time. We cannot love God and Money with the same heart. Your love for one will manifest your hatred for the other.
In Economics there is a saying: “Money is a good Servant but a bad Master.”
Yes, this saying is really true; once money becomes your Master; it will make you do things that are unethical and immoral in order to have more of it. Not only that, it will naturally drag you away from the life that God called you to live.
But why do people generally have a tendency to love money more than God? Or why do people become slaves to money? It is because, wealth and riches are highly esteemed in the society that we live in. So, naturally, we all have a tendency to possess something that is highly esteemed in the society.
If money worth nothing in the society, then, who wants to get rich, right? Therefore, the reason why we are crazy for money is because the society respect those who have it in abundance. But why the society respect those who have money? It is because money helps people to be in possession of many things that are highly valued in the society.
But what is the attitude of heaven towards the things that people value highly in the society. Let us see what Christ says about this.
Yes, what people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. So, let us see what are the things that people value highly in the society? They are – Money, Material Possessions, Beauty, Fame, Power, Positions, Career success etc. Yes, these things are highly valued by the people and many are willing to sacrifice everything they have in order to possess them.
Here, Christians are not an exception; just like the people on the street, the people in the churches too love these things and they too are often willing to dishonour God in order to possess these things.
This is not something that we see in the contemporary Christian world alone; it has always been like this in the history of the church and it will be like this in the future too. Because, majority of the Christians love this world more than heaven; they expend all their time and energy on finding means and ways to possess those things that are highly valued by the world.
See, esteeming wealth and riches has always been a basic human instinct and the churches are not an exception to this. That is the reason why Apostle James advices believers in Christ not to show favouritism to someone because he is rich.
As you know, we show favouritism towards a rich person because: we value highly the material riches that he possesses. Unfortunately, believers are not different from unbelievers in this regard.
1My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.
3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?( James 2, 1-4)
Sadly, those who talk about the Grace of God 24×7 are not gracious enough to put this advice into practice. Favouritism and partiality are rampant in the Christian churches. The rich associate only with the rich; the powerful associate only with the powerful, the Leaders associate only with the Leaders; what a hypocrisy!
Anyway, what I would like to remind you again is: “What people highly value is detestable in the sight of God”
It can be your, Mercedes Benz and a multi- Million-dollar worth mansion that you live in; it can be the power and position that you possess in your Career; it can be the celebrities that you admire and love to imitate; also, it can be your beauty and talents that you admire and feel proud of in your heart.
Saints; there is nothing wrong with having material possessions; God intended us to have all those blessings. But the problem comes when we love those things more than God and compromise with His Word in order to possess those things.
So, the next question is – As a Christian should you desire to possess the things that are detestable in the sight of God? My answer is a big – NO!
If you wonder why I say – “No” – please look at the lives of Christ and His Apostles. They lived a very simple life; Christ even did not have a place to call “home” nor did He ever own a wallet.
Also, same was the case with His disciples and even the first century believers. They lost everything they possessed when they became followers of Christ.
Their heavenly calling convinced all of them about the futility of owning anything in this world. So, they emptied themselves of all their worldly possessions and this self-emptying enabled them to completely focus on the heavenly treasures as Jesus taught them.
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6, 19-21)
Saints; the core of our Christian calling is to live a simple life that is free from the love of this world and its desires as this will help us to be completely focused on the kingdom of God.
Instead of feeling proud of the material possessions that we have, we should feel proud of our humble, simple lifestyle that God called us to live; because – that is what we are called to be.
9Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. (James 1, 9-11)
Of course, we do work hard and make money or grow rich, but the purpose of God letting us have money is not to worship or adore it. But to share it with those who are in need both within the church and without the church.
As a Christian, you are not supposed to hoard more than what you need; everything you have in surplus should be shared with those who do not have. Remember, God blessed you in order to bless others.
The reason why many of the rich Christians are finding to difficult to share their blessings is – because they love their material riches more than they love God; it is because they value highly their material possessions; which are detestable in the sight of God.
Though they claim that God has blessed them, they are still reluctant to share those blessings with others as they love those blessings more than the One who have blessed them.
But what I would like to remind them is just this: Do not love the world or anything in this world; because the one who loves this world does not have the love of God in him.
15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father d is not in them. 16For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2, 15-17)