“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? 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.” (Luke 16.10-13)
Oh, Jesus, dear Lord, beloved Master, you sure can be a pain in the… Sorry, what I mean is, you give us such challenging things to consider, don’t you? Whatever happened to all your lovely Hallmarky Precious Moments? What on earth are we supposed to do with such ridiculous, uh, sorry, I mean, amazing stories you tell, and the puzzling conclusions you share in these hard sayings which follow?
It seems our Lord Jesus, even in his earthly life, was a very keen observer of human behaviour and of human nature. He took careful note of how much effort people put into getting rich, and even how carefully they thought about it, how inspired they seemed, in fact. His parable, his story, is about such a man. After telling it, Jesus basically asks his disciples if those who are working for treasure which does not endure and cannot satisfy work so hard and are so shrewd, why are they not willing to work at least as hard, why not truly in-spired (filled with the Spirit), why not just as enthusiastic (filled with God), for the most amazing treasure ever? Don’t be a schmuck (paraphrase, folks, this is a paraphrase); you know what’s at stake: Citizenship in the Reign of God, partnership with the Creator in building a new creation, and a life which endures forever even while it satisfies now in joyful abundance that the world cannot understand.
What is our truest treasure? That is also our god. Is it the one true God, or is it something/someone else? Just think of the parable Jesus could make of the Wall Street/City ‘shrewdness’ which led to the collapse of 2008 and the Great Recession, still ongoing for millions of people around the world. Even so, Jesus asks us also, why can’t you be as creative and shrewd as those folks were, not for wrecking, but for building? What you have to offer is a true treasure, and it won’t hurt anyone. Actually, what you have to offer will heal and give life, as you follow me, and let me live in you and work through you.
Whom do we serve? God or wealth? What defines us? The love of God, or the love of money/success/celebrity/whatever else that is not God? Whom do we worship, God or greed? What is our truest treasure, dear friends? What is yours?
I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess. (Martin Luther)
What we do with what we have reveals whom we serve. What we do with our lives reveals the focus of our worship. Life is worship; may ours reveal that we worship and serve the one true God who is love, living as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the God of love, mercy, compassion, and hope is most clearly revealed to all the world. For that love, mercy, compassion, and hope, what else can we say? Thanks be to God!