By John Blase
Question: What metrics are you using to measure your quality of life? Most of us have some pictures of success we measure ourselves against. And unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock or off the literal grid, at least one of those pictures probably looks like money. Sure, there are obviously other metrics, such as health, the presence of family and friends, and job satisfaction, but it seems none of us can shake the one known as wealth. We look around at those who seem to have it together financially and conclude they’ve got it made.
There’s nothing new under the sun, including this particular notion. This approach to life has been around about as long as this world has, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Wealth is a common measuring stick for the kingdoms of this world. However, that is not so in the kingdom of God.
Jesus tells two parables in Luke 16, both beginning with a common line: “There was a rich man…” (vv.1,19). But the two parables take different tracks from there. The first appears to praise a shrewd steward who uses money to gain favor, though it’s not the man’s questionable ethics Jesus wants us to emulate; it’s his attitude toward money. The man in the parable sees wealth as a means to an end. He uses it to secure his future. In the same way, you and I are to use everything at our disposal with an eye to our future—eternity with the Lord. In telling this parable, Jesus raises a caution: “So if you have not been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with what is genuine?” (Luke 16:11). True riches. Genuine wealth. The kind that ultimately matters.
The second parable presents a radical reversal of the way things are: it’s the poor and forgotten who end up with a place at the table in God’s kingdom. The rich, who enjoyed luxury in this world (wearing purple and fine linen, and living in splendor every day), are left out in the world to come. They used money to benefit themselves instead of using it to serve God.
Although Jesus’s parables initially diverge somewhat, they both arrive back at the same conclusion: “You cannot serve both God and money.” His point is that money is not necessarily a bad thing, but we must remember where our hope lies. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. ” (Matthew 6:24).
It is interesting to note who was listening to Jesus tell these parables on that day. Luke tells us it was the Pharisees, who were “lovers of money” (Luke 16:14), men who believed they could pledge their allegiance to both money and God.
True riches. Genuine wealth. The kind that ultimately matters and is really the only metric for our lives is trust in the King of the coming kingdom. That’s how we have it made.
Written by John Blase