We can’t have it both ways.

Jesus concluded his teaching on faithfulness with these words.

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.”

Don’t you think that religious leaders would agree with Jesus on this point, even if they disagreed on others?

Their response is a sad commentary on how they understood God’s purposes for life.

Luke 16.14The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him.

The Greek word for “ridicule” pictures a physical turning up of the nose to scoff or deride someone. Our modern expression, “blow someone off,” is close to the meaning.

Why would anyone who was devoted to God scoff at the belief that God should be number one above all else?

Having It Both Ways

It may be that the Pharisees attempted to love God and material possessions at the same time.

They had certain standards for obedience.

— The maintenance of sabbath requirements were important.

— Religious people should not associate with “sinners.”

— There were proper and improper ways to observe meals with others.

The word “Pharisee” is derived from the Aramaic term which means “to divide” or “to separate.” They sought to live separate from sin.

Even though they claimed to desire full obedience to God’s laws, they saw no conflict with the pursuit of wealth and status.

Not So Fast

It is easy to be critical of a religious group that lived 2000 years ago. Possibly, you are like me when you consider their reaction to Jesus.

Jesus competes daily for the sole direction of my life. I hate to confess this, but it is easy to think I am loyal to Jesus while pursuing my own self-interest at the same time.

How is my behavior different from that of the Pharisees?

Both Jesus’ teaching and the Pharisees’ reaction is a reminder to continually examine my spiritual life and adjust it to Jesus’ actions and attitudes.

Promise + Fulfillment + Response

The Gospel of Luke carries a Promise + Fulfillment + Response theme throughout the book.

The promised Messiah was walking from Galilee to Jerusalem. Some people responded to his presence by following his way of life.

Religious leaders, who should have known better, responded with criticism, opposition, and ultimately the cross.

God requires a response from us, too. Let’s consider how we will respond to Jesus’ words.

Luke 16.15 So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Here are some questions to ask ourselves.

— Are some of my practices acceptable to society, but an abomination to God?

I was convicted of shedding tears of joy when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, but few tears for the millions who have died for COVID.

— I may not know the true intent of my heart or my inside condition. When did I last ask to show me how he sees my inner self?

— Do I regularly read the Bible with the intent to know and do God’s will?

— Has the Holy Spirit revealed aspects of my life that need to change? If so, have I made the changes?

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss these verses on YouTube today. The video can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. You will appreciate Rudy’s insights on this passage.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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