by Bill Spaans:
Well, here we stand at the brink of this New Year, and it seems that Doctor Luke still has a few lessons to teach us! In chapter 16 Dr. Luke records two parables told by Jesus. In the first of these a property manager misuses his masters trust and is about to get fired. Apparently in Jesus’ day property managers as well as tax collectors earned their livelihood by charging a commission on money they were hired to collect. Often greedy property managers and tax collectors would charge exorbitant commissions – which is why they were so often despised! In this parable the manager who was about to get fired saw a way to curry favour with his debtors – he lowered his excessive commission in hopes of gaining some advantage for himself. This manager saw material blessings as something to be used to advance his own interests at the expense of those around him.
The second parable is about a rich man, and a poor man named Lazarus who sat begging at his doorstep. The text says Lazarus was “covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.” Lazarus was in a sorry state indeed, and the rich man had the resources to help him, but failed to do so. Eventually both died and while Lazarus ended up on the “bosom of Abraham” (i.e., heaven) the rich man was relegated to Hades (i.e., hell). In death the rich man is in agony and he pleads with Father Abraham to allow Lazarus to bring him something to quench his thirst. But he is denied this request.
So here we have it. A manager who sought material gain as a means to pursue his own selfish ends. And a rich man who selfishly keeps all his resources for himself. In telling these parables Jesus is very clear about what our priorities should be as Christ-followers! He drives the point home in Luke 16:13:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
During the last year much of the world economy has ground to a halt because of the contagion of Covid-19. This has led to a lot of soul searching about what is important in life. Is it our material possessions and the pursuit of wealth? Or is it our relationships with one another? And our relationship to God? Good questions for us to ask as we stand at the brink of a New Year! Luke 16 makes it very clear where Jesus stood on this issue. Let’s commit to pursuing His priorities for 2021. The consequences will be eternal!