Day 23

Kingdom Values

from the Luke reading plan


Luke 16:1-31, Proverbs 15:16, 1 Corinthians 4:7-13

BY Guest Writer

We tend to pluck out Christ’s teachings and deliver them as neat and tidy Sunday school lessons. Every word is true and useful (Proverbs 30:5; 2 Timothy 3:16), and yet, when we place ourselves in the sandals of the original hearers and listen as they would have listened, we discover a depth we might otherwise miss.

Let’s use Luke 16 as our case study for this principle. Luke 15 sets the scene. A crowd of tax collectors and sinners had gathered around Jesus, annoyed that “this man receives sinners and eats with them” (v.2). The nerve! Jesus addressed their unrighteous indignation with a string of vivid lessons. If we were watching this text unfold as a theatre performance, our program might read something like this:

Scene 1: A sheep, a coin, and a son—three stories about the lost.

The curtains would then fall and rise again to…

Scene 2: A swindler, a beggar, and a rich man—two stories about true riches.

Christ’s words, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” (Luke 16:10, ESV), are scribbled into the bottom of my laundry baskets as a reminder that if Jesus can’t trust me to do laundry well and with joy, He surely can’t trust me with something more significant. Laundry aside, this is the point Jesus makes in the parable of the dishonest manager. Though at first glance it might seem Jesus holds up the manager’s swindling as model behavior, it’s not the dishonesty Jesus wants us to emulate; it’s that he views money as a means to an end. So should followers of Jesus; the accumulation of wealth should never be our goal, but if we can use earthly wealth for eternal good, we will prove ourselves faithful. “So if you have not been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with what is genuine?” (v.11, CSB).

Fast forward a few verses. Jesus is still responding to the hard-hearted Pharisees (vv.14–15) when He tells the tale of a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. Lazarus dies and is in glory; the rich man dies and is in torment. After the rich man pleads for Lazarus to go to his relatives and call them to repent, the lesson ends with these words: “If they don’t hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (v.31). God’s Word has been beating the same drum since the beginning: wealth might make things easier in this life, but it’s not what matters for the next. End scene.

Jesus was talking to people who valued wealth and saw it as a sign of God’s favor, but He reminds them that the kingdom doesn’t have quite the same economy. The faith of a child—not money or possessions—is all that’s needed. Money is alluring, but it is a master who ultimately disappoints. God looks at our hearts, not our bank account statements. “And he told them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight’” (v.15).

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Post Comments (45)

45 thoughts on "Kingdom Values"

  1. Dee Wilcox says:

    I was definitely confused by the shrewd master, but I think I’m starting to understand. Like churchmouse, beginning with what I know, money (how we use it and relate to it) reflects our values and what is in our hearts. We are called to be stewards and to be wise. I think that is the message there – be faithful and be wise with earthly so we can be trusted with genuine.

  2. Dee Wilcox says:

    I was definitely confused by the

  3. Tamara B says:

    Alxis and Rachel,

    I too had a hard time understanding this, but I googled it, and found an interesting sermon on it.(@ http://www.gcvreugdenhil.nl/preek/maak-vrienden-mammon/ for dutch people).
    He states that we can learn from non-christians. Of course we are not to follow the bad behaviour, but the manager realised that money wouldt not help him, but loyalty would. Just like the prodigial son, once the money was gone, he had no more friends, but this manager has people who are thankfull/ friends, who will support him after his money is gone.
    We should invest in friends, rather than earthly possesions. You also see this in the story of Lazarus. The rich man had everything while on earth, but we cannot take earthly possesions with us, so he had nothing left once he died. Lazarus had nothing on earth, but finds comfort with Abraham.
    Dont’t live your life, trying to earn more, but invest in people, things that last. [Vs 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of worldly wealth, so that when it fails, they may welcome you into eternal dwellings] He concludes from this verse that through your friendship, people may be saved, and join you in heaven. So use the money/time you have for Gods glory, (as the manager did for his own), and enjoy heavenly wealth

  4. Claire Bills says:

    This is really helpful thank you

  5. Ashley Thomas says:

    It’s so easy to get caught up in money and materialistic things that have no place in the kingdom of heaven. I, too, struggle with finding the right balance. I will share that once we started tithing on a regular basis (despite being beyond broke), our small business took off. God is all that matters in the long run. I aim to be a faithful servant.

  6. Kristen says:

    Chelsea, I don’t know if you will read this, but I used to want to plug my ears when there was talk of tithing. I was convicted about it, and we decided to follow it. My husband was laid off after for months, but God provided. We even went on vacation. My pastor doesn’t really talk about money a lot, but he did say that in God’s math, 90% is greater than 100%. I have found God faithful. My friend couldn’t believe how God provided for her. She was going to have to go back to work after being off for leave from the birth of her 3rd child. Her husband got an evaluation( or something like that), and got more money months before he should have. She was able to stay home. Just remember He is trustworthy.

  7. Chelsea V says:

    I am time and time again convicted of this. I hate this admit this but I really struggle to tithe…I am trying to pay off what seems like endless amount of student debt and my mind goes to how much quicker I could pay it off if I were not tithing…I know..horrible!!!! I have a horrible grip on it. Please pray for my heart in this area and to be a good steward ❤️

    1. Geneva Brown says:

      Praying for you. Know that you are not alone. When I think on tithing I know that regardless of the amount of debt I owe I owe it to God to trust him with what he’s already provided for me, and somehow, someway he provides all my needs and on occasions some of my wants. But know that God knows your heart and how you struggle yet you continue even through your struggling thoughts.

      1. Chelsea V says:

        Thank you so much Geneva!!

    2. Kelly Gratz says:

      Time and time again, I have watched God supernaturally multiply my resources when I have been faithful and treated all I own as HIS. We don’t give so that He WILL expand our resources, it must be from the heart, however, He promises to meet our every need. We must be faithful to Him. It’s all His anyway!

    3. Andrea Petkau says:

      Is this a season where maybe you tithe your time? Volunteer more regularly in your church? Then back to tithing $ when you are done with your debts?
      ❤️

  8. Jan says:

    The best explanation for me of this parable was provided in a class on parables by a Messianic rabbi who was also a Christian pastor. His name is Dr. Chad Foster. Look for his onine class on parables for a Hebraic view. The underlying theme is the urgency with which the manager moved to gain credibility points and future favor with those he dealt with in business before he loses his job. If this dishonest man was that motivated and smart, then how much more should we consider the urgency of the short time that we have to evaluate and manage the use of our resources on earth. How have we managed our Master’s resources?

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