Lukeby Mike Raiter
Repeatedly in Luke’s gospel, Jesus warns us against the dangers of wealth. In these next verses, He emphasises the importance of the right use of money. It can be the measuring stick of our commitment to Him. If we cannot be faithful with “worldly wealth”, how can we be faithful with other things (vv. 10–12)? In other words, the way a person uses their money and possessions is a reflection of their entire life orientation.
Jesus has already told people to store up treasures in heaven (Luke 12:33–34). He says the same thing here when He warns us against being unfaithful with money (v. 11). If, like the rich fool (12:16–21), we store up our wealth and neglect the poor and needy, then “who will trust you with true riches”, which are the riches of heaven?
Jesus is not denying the importance of faith in Him, but He is reminding us that faith must express itself in works. James says: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:15–17).
Jesus then portrays money as a slave owner who has complete control over a person (v. 13). Money is deceptively powerful—when people think they are using their money, their money is actually using them. That is easy to prove: if I am the master of my money, then I can happily give it away. But if money is my master, it controls me.
A little later in the gospel, Jesus meets a rich ruler and offers him heavenly treasure if he gives away his money (Luke 18:18–25). Surely heavenly treasure is infinitely more valuable. But the man cannot do it, “because he was very wealthy” (18:23). Who was the master in that relationship: the man or his money?
It is often said that when it comes to money, the important thing is our attitude. That is only half true. A right attitude must express itself in practical generosity. If I am poor, I need more than someone’s right attitude.
If God has “entrusted” worldly wealth to us, what does this tell us about who the true owner of our wealth is, and how we should use it?
Why do you think Jesus speaks so often about the dangers of greed and the importance of generosity?