TODAY’S READING: LUKE 16-18
Jesus teaches about stewardship (16:1-13); Jesus teaches about covetousness (16:14-31); Jesus teaches about forgiveness (17:1-6); Jesus teaches about faithfulness (17:7-10); Jesus teaches about thankfulness (17:11-19); Jesus teaches about preparedness (17:20-37); a lesson to be learned from a persistent widow (18:1-8); a lesson to be learned from a proud Pharisee (18:9-17); a lesson to be learned from a disprioritized ruler (18:18-34); a lesson to be learned from a pressing beggar (18:35-43).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
There is a tremendous amount of action and pertinent information in today’s reading. Certainly more than there is space in this venue to comment concerning. Our thoughts today will center around key subjects that are addressed in these chapters that have particular and significant application for believers living in these last days.
Subject #1 – STEWARDSHIP. (16:1-13)
Though the circumstances were somewhat different for the steward mentioned in this passage, each of us are quickly moving toward the ultimate accounting of our stewardship at the Judgment Seat of Christ (II Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10, 12). Just as this steward in 16:2, you will “give an account of thy stewardship.” The key determinator on that day will be the answer to the simple question, “What did we do with what He entrusted to us?” The New Testament is clear that we will give an account of our stewardship of:
•The LIFE of God. (Gen. 2:7; Rom 5:12; Col. 1:26-27; I John 5:11)
*We have been given the ability to LIVE RIGHTEOUSLY.
•The LOVE of God. (Rom. 5:5; Mark 12:28-31; I John 4:14-17,19; I Thess. 4:9)
*We have been given the ability to LOVE DIVINELY.
•The GOSPEL of God. (I Thess. 2:4; I Tim. 1:11; 6:20)
*We have been given the ability to impact SOULS ETERNALLY.
•The GIFTS of God. (I Peter 4:10-11; I Cor. 3:10)
*We have been given the ability to be USED MIGHTILY.
•The RESOURCES of God. (Money – Luke 16:11; Time – Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5; Talents – Matt. 25:14-27; People – II Tim. 1:5; 3:15)
*We have been given the ability to manage RESOURCES WISELY.
Verse 11 is a doozy. I am convinced that many Laodiceans never reach anybody with the gospel and never are truly able to minister effectively because God is unwilling to entrust to them what He truly treasures, simply because of their unfaithfulness to Him with money.
If verse 11 is a doozy, then verse 13 is a blockbuster for our generation of believers! We have convinced ourselves that this verse was true for everybody but us, and that we have the ability to do both. What part of “CANNOT” do we not understand? When God looks at our lives, does He think we love Him and hate money, or hate Him and love money? Does He think we hold to Him and despise money, or hold money and despise Him? We certainly want to love money and love God at the same time, but Jesus said it simply “CANNOT” be done! And all God’s people said, “Oh, me!”
Subject #2 – HELL. (16:19-31)
It is clear that prior to Christ’s resurrection, saints who died were held in a place of paradise called Abraham’s bosom. It was obviously close to the place of punishment called Hell where all unbelievers were located, being separated by a great gulf, or gaping opening (16:26). Notice that Hell is a real place, where real people go, and experience real suffering and torment. Notice that in Hell, the rich man had eyes and could see (16:23a); had a body and could feel (16:23b); had a tongue and experienced thirst (16:24); had a mouth and could talk (16:27); and evidently, had a mind and could reason (16:28).
The passage also teaches us that there are actually no believers in Hell. Unbelief may have gotten them there, but as soon as they open their eyes in Hell, they become believers! Sadly, it is eternally too late.
The passage also teaches that people in Hell have compassion for the lost (16:28). Would to God that believers would have the same passion and compassion for souls that this lost rich man had.
Sometimes we think that if God would just do some miraculous thing, our lost family and friends would come to Christ. The passage teaches us that if they refuse to believe the Bible, they wouldn’t believe even if someone rose from the dead to speak to them. They already proved that by not believing in the resurrected Christ!
Subject #3 – FORGIVENESS. (17:1-6)
In this passage the Lord teaches us about the importance of forgiveness. When someone offends us, immediately God’s grace kicks in to be more than sufficient to help us to bear it (II Cor. 12:9; I Cor. 10:13). Hebrews 12:15 teaches us, however, that we have the ability to “fail the grace of God” (i.e. refuse to apply His grace). If we refuse to apply that grace, Hebrews 12:15 says that our unforgiving spirit will cause a “root of bitterness” to spring up in us and “trouble” us, and impact (“defile”) “many” people around us, even leading us into sexual sin (Heb. 12:16)! Don’t ever underestimate the importance of forgiveness!
Subject #4 – THANKFULNESS. (17:11-19)
As you read this story about these 10 lepers, recognize that, generally speaking, believers in our day are characterized by “the nine” rather than the “one.” Jesus’ question is a good one in the Laodicean Age, “where are the nine?” (17:17)
A couple of cross references to keep in mind:
•II Timothy 3:2 says that being “unthankful” is as characteristic of believers in our day as being “lovers of our own selves”!
•Romans 1:21 reveals that being “unthankful” is one of the first steps toward a “reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28). Hey, this is serious stuff!
•I Thessalonians 5:18 teaches us that it is impossible to be in the perfect will of God and not be thankful! Again, pretty serious stuff!
Subject #5 – RIGHTEOUSNESS. (18:9-14)
Any way you slice it, we who hold to “fundamentalism” run the greatest risk of becoming the modern day Pharisees. Have you become Pharisaical? Verse 9 of chapter 18 lets us know that there are two tell-tale signs: 1) Trusting in your own righteous (i.e. what you “do” FOR Christ, rather than who you “are” IN Christ) 2) Thinking you’re more spiritual than others.
What do you trust as the true source of your righteousness? Paul talked about those who are “ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:3). God’s righteousness could never (on either side of salvation!) be ACHIEVED! It can only be RECEIVED! Paul cried out in Philippians 3:9 to “be found in him, NOT HAVING MINE OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, which is of the law (i.e. what I do for God), but that which is through the faith of Christ (i.e. what Christ does for me), the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
And, what do you honestly think when you look at others? Do you secretly think that you are on a higher plane than they are because of what you do or do not do? It’s spook, y’all! Be careful!