LUKE 16 | Rel McCoy
It seems like the overall theme in Luke chapter 16 is people's relationship to money and how it can help or hinder their relationship with God. Jesus ends this chapter with a vivid story about Heaven and Hell, subjects that always seem to be in close proximity to Jesus' teachings about money.
In the start of the chapter, Jesus tells a parable about how a servant uses someone else's riches to gain favour
with his master. Jesus tells his disciples to "use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings" (Luke 16:9). He also says "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much" (Luke 16:10).
In the end part of the chapter, Jesus is telling a story about a rich man and a beggar (verses 19-31) It's cool to look at this story in light of the two things He said earlier in the chapter and see how those parables are suited to the characters in the story He told. I'm not sure if Jesus made these characters and stories up just to have an illustration to get his point across, but they seem like real people to me.
Lazarus, who is the beggar in the story at the end of Luke 16, is Jesus' treasure. Jesus sees the suffering heart, the broken life, and the person in need, regardless of their social stature. His words "true riches" (verse 11) and "worldly wealth" (verse11) show the difference between what is of value on earth, and what is of value in God's eyes. He goes even further to say at the end of verse 15, "What people value highly is detestable in God's sight". Strong words.
It's not as if God didn't care about the rich man in the story, but it is interesting to note that his name is not mentioned, and we all know the name of the beggar, these thousands of years later. This same story also shows a couple more interesting things. The rich man knew Lazarus' name (16:24). I think that indicates that he had opportunity to help him in his life time, but did not. After his death, the rich man still had the same self-righteous attitude that he had while he lived on earth, asking Abraham to send Lazarus to serve him, and "cool his tongue" with a drop of water. Maybe God might have helped change his heart and attitude if he had helped Lazarus when he was alive? The rich man also had his memory intact while in the flames of hell (16:25) and referred to Abraham as his "father" (16:27), which indicates that Jesus was directing this parable at the people in his own religion. (If He were speaking today, He would be talking to Christians.) This also points back to Jesus' constant message, that no matter how religious we are, it is our hearts that matter most. The things that are in our heart are shown in our actions towards others. Our money and time mean nothing, but what we do with them, and our choices of how we use what we have been given by God can affect our destiny, and also the lives of others.
When my friend Jeff asked me to write a devotional for this website, I automatically agreed, knowing Jeff's heart and desire to help people. Unfortunately, I didn't take into account that I may not have any great revelation to contribute. I know I don't read my Bible probably as much as I should, and I am very aware of my shortcomings and how often I miss the mark. Thank God that He is full of mercy.
I gave my life to Jesus when I was 19. I ran so quickly away from the dark and selfish life I used to lead, that I lost course somewhere along the line, and ended up in the arms of religion, instead of the arms of Jesus. Church was a social club, where people gathered to share some new revelation they had, or to just be around people that had the same opinions as they did. There was love there, but it always seemed like the atmosphere was closed off from the outside world, which, despite how unwelcome I felt at first, I learned to fit into. Back then, I read my Bible more than anything else, memorized Scripture, listened to all kinds of biblical scholars on tapes in my walkman, and had great theological and philosophical conversations/arguments with my Christian brothers and sisters. I was also very good at hiding my sins from those same friends, and acting as if I had it all together. Again, I've gotta thank God for his mercy and kindness.
I still go to church, and read my Bible, but I'm doing my best to live without religious trappings. I hope to walk with the "Good News" (Luke 16:16) in my heart, rather than rules and traditions that the Jesus of the Bible wouldn't expect me to live up to. Put a smile on God's face today and find a person that you can give to, whether it be a little, or a lot.