If you followed Jesus from Galilee on his journey to Jerusalem, you would have had quite an adventure.
I suggest that you try reading the Gospel of Luke from the vantage point of someone who walked with the crowd that made the trip with Jesus.
— Pay attention to the various kinds of people are encountered on the way.
Jesus used different methods with different kinds of people. He knew what was needed to help each group change their minds about his life and ministry.
— As you picture yourself in the crowd, ask yourself how you would respond to his teaching?
An evangelist of another era, Billy Sunday, cautioned his audiences, “Don’t pop up your spiritual umbrella and have my message fall on somebody else.”
— Remember that we are reading an account of Jesus’ appointment with God’s ultimate purpose for him in Jerusalem.
For the sake of space and time, ministers usually only cover a few verses of the story at a time. The best way to understand short passages is to see them as connected to a larger whole.
The four verses of today’s blog article are connected to Jesus’ teaching, going all the way back to chapter 14.
Chapter 14 recorded a dinner party of elite religious leaders, where Jesus confronted them about their passion for status versus care for the needy.
The prosperous Pharisees are still in the picture in chapter 16, when Jesus told the Parable of the Dishonest Manager.
The exact Pharisees of chapter 14 may not have been present, but their attitudes and actions were prominent and in need of confrontation.
As we read the account, let’s be sure and ask ourselves how we are like the “bad guys” in the story.
The religious leaders deceived themselves and found a way to enjoy status and wealth, while simultaneously condemning Jesus and the outcasts he welcomed.
The Parable of the Dishonest Manager challenged Jesus’ listeners to realize that acceptable behavior in the world’s system is not acceptable in the kingdom of God.
Jesus taught the “children of the light” to embrace God’s rules for the kingdom.
Kingdom of God Practices
A preacher once said, “Show me your checkbook and I will show you the state of your spiritual life.”
Let’s expand the preacher’s thoughts: “Show me how you use your time, talents, and treasures, and I will show you the state of your spiritual life.”
“Children of the light” will be faithful in the use of what God has given them.
— Luke 16.10-12 – “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.
“If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?
“And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?”
If we use our time, talents, and treasures (the little things in life) to build up our status and comfort, then as “children of the light” we have been dishonest with what God has given us.
The truth is that our time, talents, and treasures are not ours. They are gifts that are on loan from God.
If we use them to help other people become friends of God, we will be found faithful by our Master.
Who Are You Serving
Let’s imagine ourselves as members of the crowd that was taught by Jesus.
How do we respond to his summary of his teaching?
–– Luke 16.13 – “No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Here are some questions to consider.
— Am I using what God has given to me for myself or for his kingdom?
— Do I realize that everything I have – time, talents, and treasures – are on loan from God to be used for his purposes?
— Are these gifts available to God, or do I stingily grasp them as my own?
— Am I learning from Jesus how to live as a “child of the light”?
Rudy Ross and I discuss these four verses in today’s YouTube video. I think you will benefit from our discussion. The video can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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