Kingdom values

The Pharisees (who loved money) were listening to what Jesus was saying and mocking him. Jesus told them “All of you justify yourselves in front of others, but God knows what is in your heart. What people admire the most is what is repulsive to God. The words of the Law and the Prophets were followed until John came. Ever since then, the good news about the kingdom of God has been declared, and many people are crowding in. But even the smallest letter of the words of the Law and the Prophets are still valid.”

LK 16:14-17

Possessions and the kingdom

“It is very difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. It would be easier for a huge camel to go through the tiny eye of a needle.”

His audience was astounded and confused at the same time. They asked “Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said “If people try to do it with their own power, they will fail. But if they rely on God’s power then everything is possible.”

Peter looked at him and said “Lord, we’ve left everything we had to follow you. What will happen to us?”

“Mark my words,” Jesus said, “everyone who has left their home and family because of me and the Good News will receive 100 times more than that back now, as well as receive eternal life in the age that is coming. Many who are last will be first and many who are first will be last.”

MT 19:23-30, MK 10:23-31, LK 18:24-30

Serving two masters

Jesus then told the story to his disciples. “There was a rich man who heard that his accountant was mishandling the books. He called the accountant in and told him to defend himself against these accusations, because he was about to fire him.

The accountant was really worried about what to do. He knew he wasn’t strong enough to be a laborer and he was too proud to beg. He came up with a plan so that after he got fired people would welcome him into their homes.

He called everyone who owed money to his master, asking them how much they owed. After each told him, he had them mark down the amount they owed dramatically, even cutting some bills in half.

The manager praised his dishonest accountant because he had acted shrewdly. The people who are more worldly are far more shrewd at dealing with their own kind than godly people are. I tell you, use the wealth of this world to get friends, so that when that money is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal homes.”

LK 16:1-9
“If you are honest in handling small matters, you will be honest in handling large ones. If you are dishonest with small matters you will also be dishonest with large ones. If you have not taken care of what little has been given to you, who will give you anything more? If you have not taken care of what was entrusted to you by someone else, who will give you anything of your own to take care of?

You can either serve God or money. You can’t serve both. God is either your master or money is your master. If you try to serve both at the same time, you will end up being devoted to one of them and despising the other.”

MT 6:24, LK 16:10-13
“Don’t store up treasures for yourself here on earth, where they can be destroyed or stolen. Instead store up treasures in heaven, where they can’t be destroyed or stolen but instead will last forever. Because where your treasure is, there your heart is as well. Sell what you have and give it to those who don’t have anything. This is the best kind of wealth to have.”

MT 6:19-21, LK 12:33-34

Talents aren’t for us, they are for God.

In the parable of the talents, in Matthew 25:14-30, is about trusting in God and using the gifts that God has given you.

The “prosperity Gospel” preachers will tell you that this parable means that God wants you to make more money, but they have it wrong. Remember that “the love of money is the root of all evil”?

So what is it about?

The king (who represents God) gives money, to three people. It is understood that he is coming back. He gives different amounts to them “to each, according to their ability.”

Two of them are mindful of their gifts and use them to make more. One is afraid of the king and buries the money so he doesn’t lose it. When the king returns and asks for an accounting of his money, the first two are able to give the king back more than what he gave them. The last is only able to give back the original amount. The king is very angry with him.

Notice they had to give back everything. This wasn’t a money making opportunity for them. They didn’t profit from this. They were just stewards of the king’s money.

This isn’t just about money. This is about any gift from God, which is everything. It is your abilities, your special skills, your strength, your time…everything.

God wants us to trust that God will provide. God wants us to trust that we are safe and provided for. God wants is to trust that God is in charge.

Basically, God wants us to trust God, in all things, all the time.

We aren’t in charge. God is.

We are here to use our gifts – time, talent, and treasure, to build up the kingdom of God. We are here to be good stewards our entire lives.

As long as we are not doing things for our own benefit and glory, we will thrive. When we become selfish and greedy, we will fail.

This isn’t about tithing money to a church. This is about serving God all the time, and trusting God all the time.

If we are called to do something by God, God will provide a way for it to happen. This is especially important to remember when we can’t see a way that is possible.

Look at Moses. God told him that he was going to lead Israel to safety across the Red Sea. That made no sense. How was that going to happen? God told Moses to take what he had, his staff, and use it. He did, and God worked through Moses and parted the sea so they could cross safely.