Tuesday, July 9, 2013

You cannot serve two masters

Let's take a look at Chapter 16 in the Gospel of Luke. Luke, chapter 16.

Luke 16:1-31 NKJV - [1] He also said to His disciples: "There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. [2] "So he called him and said to him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.' [3] "Then the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. [4] 'I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.' 

Jesus tells his disciples this interesting parable about a steward. Back in Jesus' day, being a steward was considered a high-paying, high-importance job. You were the overseer of somebody else's assets. We don't know if this parable was a true story about an actual steward, or just an example Jesus was using to drive home a point. We don't know if this steward is what we would today call a Christian. In fact, I suspect he was not. We don't know if the accusation against the steward was true or not, he might have been falsely accused by an enemy. The one thing we know is the one thing he knew; he was more or less out of a job. This steward was not going to go down without a fight. He had a plan. If he couldn't work for his master, maybe he could get in with one of the people who owed his master some money.

[5] "So he called every one of his master's debtors to him, and said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' [6] "And he said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' So he said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' [7] "Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' So he said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' And he said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.' [8] "So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.

Back in Jesus' day, there were no coupons. There was no 10% military discount. There was no senior discount, nothing. This steward, however, invents the sweet discount. "Hey, if you pay today, instead of having to pay off for a hundred barrels of oil, we'll call it good if you pay for fifty." That's a sweet half-off deal. And the next guy? He owed on a hundred sacks of wheat, and maybe the steward knows this guy has a bit more money, so he offers him a 20% discount if he pays today. He knew which guy could pay half now, and which guy could pay 80% now. Which sure beats zero payback and an empty story about "Oh, um, about that money I owe... You know what, something came up and..."

So the master commends the unjust steward. Why was he unjust? Well he was getting laid off, and who gave him permission to give one guy a 50% discount and another a 20% discount? But the master realized this guy was a pretty sharp operator.

We don't know if the steward actually ended up getting his job back, or if he did get a job with one of the other guys. But we do know that verse nine follows.

[9] "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.

Now that is an interesting verse. Just what is Jesus saying here? To be sly with your money? Not necessarily.

[10] "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.

Fair enough. If you can't be trusted with five dollars, who would trust you with five thousand dollars?

[11] "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

Is Jesus talking about spiritual truths when he says "... the true riches"? Maybe. Is he saying you need to show yourself responsible with money first? Maybe.

[12] "And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own? [13] "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

Now we are getting somewhere. You cannot serve two masters. Doesn't have to be money. It could be lust, power, greed, getting high, getting drunk, whatever.

[14] Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.

It figures they didn't like Jesus' parable.

Jump on down to verse 19.

[19] "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. [20] "But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, [21] "desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. [22] "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. [23] "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' [25] "But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. [26] 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.' [27] "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, [28] 'for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' [29] "Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' [30] "And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' [31] "But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

So here we get an interesting account of two men; one rich, one poor. They both died, as will we all. Now, being rich alone didn't land the rich man in hell, and being poor didn't automatically land Lazarus in Abraham's bosom. The rich man, during his life, had the Bible, that is "... Moses and the prophets", and he rejected it. Lazarus believed it, even though his life certainly was not one of of happiness and prosperity.

Well, anyway, there you go. In life, you got to choose who you will serve. No man can have two masters, even of one of those masters is himself. You cannot serve two masters. Jesus is calling to you right now, "Serve me." You got to choose.

I'll make this easy. If you want to choose Jesus, say "I choose Jesus." Three words and a start at an eternity that will top the best this planet has to offer. "I choose Jesus." Now if you mean it, live it. Choose Jesus. (ref. Romans 10:9-11, 1 Jn 1:9)