Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one 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.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:19-34 NKJV)
Mammon /ˈmæmən/ in the New Testament of the Bible is commonly thought to mean money, material wealth, or any entity that promises wealth, and is associated with the greedy pursuit of gain. The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke both quote Jesus using the word in a phrase often rendered in English as "You cannot serve both God and mammon."Mammon in Hebrew (ממון) means "money." The word was adopted to modern Hebrew to mean wealth.
The word Mammon comes into English from post-classical Latin mammona 'wealth', used most importantly in the Vulgate Bible (along with Tertullian's mammonas and pseudo-Jerome's mammon). This was in turn borrowed from Hellenistic Greek μαμωνᾶς, which appears in the New Testament, borrowed from Aramaic מָמוֹנָא māmōnā, an emphatic form of the word māmōn 'wealth, profit', perhaps specifically from the Syriac dialect. The spelling μαμμωνᾷ refers to "a Syrian deity, god of riches; Hence riches, wealth"; μαμωνᾶς is transliterated from Aramaic [ממון] and also means "wealth." However, it is not clear what the earlier history of the Aramaic form is. The word may have been present throughout the Canaanite languages: the word is unknown in Old Testament Hebrew, but has been found in the Qumran documents; post-biblical Hebrew attests to māmōn; and, according to St Augustine of Hippo, Punic included the word mammon 'profit'. It has been suggested that the Aramaic word māmōn was a loanword from Mishnaic Hebrew ממון (mamôn) meaning money, wealth, or possessions; although it may also have meant "that in which one trusts."
According to the Textus Receptus of the New Testament, the Greek word translated "Mammon" is spelled μαμμωνᾷ in the Sermon on the Mount at Matt. 6:24, and μαμωνᾶ (from μαμωνᾶς) in the Parable of the Unjust Steward at Luke 16:9,11,13. The 27th edition of the popular Critical Text of the New Testament has μαμωνᾶ in all four places with no indication of any textual variances, thereby ignoring the Textus Receptus reading at Matt. 6:24...The spelling μαμμωνᾷ refers to "a Syrian deity, god of riches; Hence riches, wealth"; μαμωνᾶς is transliterated from Aramaic [ממון] and also means "wealth." The Authorised Version uses "Mammon" for both Greek spellings; John Wycliffe uses richessis. (Wikipedia)
The Parable of the Unjust Steward
Jesus 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. 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.’
“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. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’
“So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 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.’ 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.
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. 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. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?
“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.” (Luke 16:1-13)
Our universe is broken, damaged, running down. It is sustained by our Creator until the time of the Final Redemption. Our wealth is mostly controlled by a few rich men and familes...An evil angel is now running things on earth from behind the scenes. If we are not paying attention to Jesus, we may find ourselves mere puppets. Meanwhile God is calling out a people for His Name. I'll not go here into how and why everything got broken in the first place, but here is an introduction, The Ruin of Creation.
Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, (palingenesis) when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." (Matthew 19:23-30)
A similar Promise to Israel is found in Amos 9:11, quoted by the Apostle James during the First Church Council in Jerusalem,
Now the apostles and elders came together...And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the Lord who does all these things.’
“Known to God from eternity are all His works..." (Acts 15:6-19)
|From C.S. Lewis:
|God is going to invade this earth in force. But what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream, and something else -- something it never entered your head to conceive -- comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us, and so terrible to others, that none of us will have any choice left?
For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.
It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we have really chosen, whether we realized it before or not.
Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back, to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it."
I first noticed that life in ancient Israel was designed to show individual honesty and integrity: buying and selling with honest weights and measures. Hard currency mostly. The people could take advantage of
Jubilee Years to reset their clocks. They were to loan money at reasonable rates or even at no interest, and avoid usury.
But the people of Israel ignored instructions from the Land Owner (God) so eventually Yahweh called up the accumulated debt and ordered the Defendant into court, where He assessed penalties. The Jews were then exiled from their land for Seventy Years.
God owns the Land of Israel (it’s called the “Holy Land” for good reason.) The right of Jews to live in the Lord’s has always been conditional upon the behavior of the tenants.
No other nations than Israel are “owned by God" (in a covenant relationship with Him) at this time! All nations on earth are about to be “redeemed” from the cosmic Pawn Shop. It's all in the Bible!
God has called-out (ekklesia), a people for His name (“the Bride of Christ”). He announced four thousand years ago that He'd restore Israel—land and people—to her place of headship over all the nations.
You may plant your land for six years and gather its crops. But during the seventh year, you must leave it alone and withdraw from it. The needy among you will then be able to eat just as you do, and whatever is left over can be eaten by wild animals. This also applies to your vineyard and your olive grove." (Exodus 23:10–11)
"God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, telling him to speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land must be given a rest period, a sabbath to God. For six years you may plant your fields, prune your vineyards, and harvest your crops, but the seventh year is a sabbath of sabbaths for the land. It is God's sabbath during which you may not plant your fields, nor prune your vineyards. Do not harvest crops that grow on their own and do not gather the grapes on your unpruned vines, since it is a year of rest for the land. [What grows while] the land is resting may be eaten by you, by your male and female slaves, and by the employees and resident hands who live with you. All the crops shall be eaten by the domestic and wild animals that are in your land." (Leviticus 25:1–7)
"And if ye shall say: 'What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we may not sow, nor gather in our increase'; then I will command My blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth produce for the three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat of the produce, the old store; until the ninth year, until her produce come in, ye shall eat the old store." (Leviticus 25:20–22)
" I will scatter you among the nations, and keep the sword drawn against you. Your land will remain desolate, and your cities in ruins. Then, as long as the land is desolate and you are in your enemies' land, the land will enjoy its sabbaths. The land will rest and enjoy its sabbatical years. Thus, as long as it is desolate, [the land] will enjoy the sabbatical rest that you would not give it when you lived there." (Leviticus 26:33-35)
"At the end of every seven years, you shall celebrate the remission year. The idea of the remission year is that every creditor shall remit any debt owed by his neighbor and brother when God's remission year comes around. You may collect from the alien, but if you have any claim against your brother for a debt, you must relinquish it..." (Deuteronomy 15:1–6)
"Moses then gave them the following commandment: 'At the end of each seven years, at a fixed time on the festival of Sukkoth, after the year of release, when all Israel comes to present themselves before God your Lord, in the place that He will choose, you must read this Torah before all Israel, so that they will be able to hear it. 'You must gather together the people, the men, women, children and proselytes from your settlements, and let them hear it. They will thus learn to be in awe of God your Lord, carefully keeping all the words of this Torah. Their children, who do not know, will listen and learn to be in awe of God your Lord, as long as you live in the land which you are crossing the Jordan to occupy'." (Deuteronomy 31:10–13)
Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying: "At the end of seven years ye shall let go every man his brother that is a Hebrew, that hath been sold unto thee, and hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee"; but your fathers hearkened not unto Me, neither inclined their ear." (Jeremiah 34:13–14)
"...And the Jews who had escaped from the sword, Nebuchadnezzar carried he away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia; to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had been paid her sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years (70). (2 Chronicles 36:20–21)
“Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh (Djoser) had a dream; and behold, he stood by the river. Suddenly there came up out of the river seven cows, fine looking and fat; and they fed in the meadow. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them out of the river, ugly and gaunt, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the river. And the ugly and gaunt cows ate up the seven fine looking and fat cows.
So Pharaoh awoke. He slept and dreamed a second time; and suddenly seven heads of grain came up on one stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven thin heads, blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them. And the seven thin heads devoured the seven plump and full heads. So Pharaoh awoke, and indeed, it was a dream. Now it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them for Pharaoh. Then the chief butler spoke to Pharaoh, saying: “I remember my faults this day. When Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, both me and the chief baker, we each had a dream in one night, he and I. Each of us dreamed according to the interpretation of his own dream. Now there was a young Hebrew man with us there, a servant of the captain of the guard. And we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us; to each man he interpreted according to his own dream. And it came to pass, just as he interpreted for us, so it happened. He restored me to my office, and he hanged him.”
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.” So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “ It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Behold, in my dream I stood on the bank of the river. Suddenly seven cows came up out of the river, fine looking and fat; and they fed in the meadow. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and gaunt, such ugliness as I have never seen in all the land of Egypt. And the gaunt and ugly cows ate up the first seven, the fat cows. When they had eaten them up, no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were just as ugly as at the beginning. So I awoke. Also I saw in my dream, and suddenly seven heads came up on one stalk, full and good. Then behold, seven heads, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them. And the thin heads devoured the seven good heads. So I told this to the magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me.”
Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do: The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years; the dreams are one. And the seven thin and ugly cows which came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty heads blighted by the east wind are seven years of famine. This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do. Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land. So the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe. And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. “Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.” So the advice was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!” So he set him over all the land of Egypt. Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-Paaneah. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On.
So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt. Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. Now in the seven plentiful years the ground brought forth abundantly. So he gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities; he laid up in every city the food of the fields which surrounded them. Joseph gathered very much grain, as the sand of the sea, until he stopped counting, for it was immeasurable.
And to Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.” And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Then the seven years of plenty which were in the land of Egypt ended, and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. The famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Then Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do.”
The famine was over all the face of the earth, and Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians. And the famine became severe in the land of Egypt. So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands.” (Genesis 41:1-57 NKJV) An enormous transfer of wealth from the people to the Pharaoh took place!
Four hundred years later the number of Jews living in Egypt had increased from 70 to 600,000 able-bodied men, plus women and children. No longer part of the Upper Class they were now farm workers living in labor camps in the Delta. (Tanis?)
The economy of Egypt depended on Jewish labor but the proud Egyptians disliked foreigners of influence in charge of the economy. No wonder Pharaoh resisted the attempts of Moses and Aaron to “Let my people go.” God helped and the Jews fled. Pharaoh chased them in anger. The Jews escaped, but Pharaoh and his pursuing army did not. The economy collapse and the Pharaoh’s heir had to do a cover-up to keep his countrymen from rioting. (See the Hyksos)
“Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.” (Matthew 21:33-46 NKJV)
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 25:14-30)“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. 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.’ “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. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ “So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 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.
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.
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. 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. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? “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.” (Luke 16:1-13 NKJV)
A marvelous message by Ray Stedman, What is Money For, on Luke 16 is available in audio or printed form. See Footnote 2 for excerpt.James the Apostle and Leader of the Early Church in Jerusalem warned the selfishly rich:
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.” (James 5:1-6 NKJV)
And Jesus began to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beat and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, `What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.' But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, `This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.' And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others." When they heard this, they said, "God forbid!" But he looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written: `The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner'? Every one who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one it will crush him." (Luke 20:9-18).
The New Testament tells followers of Jesus to work and support themselves whenever possible. Kids at home should have chores. Teachers of the Bible can be supported by the congregation if they are teaching the Bible full time and a side job would prevent them from teaching full time. A church "need fund" administered by the deacons is often very helpful. But since the beginning, God has arranged for all who are able to work and earn money.
But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (II Thessalonians 3:6-15 NKJV)
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'” (Revelation 3:14-22 NKJV)Ray Stedman comments,
"A key verse is the three little words "buy from me." Jesus has all the church really needs to function. It is nice to have buildings, great choirs and beautiful music. These are not wrong, I do not mean in any way to suggest that they are, but they are not what the church needs. What it needs is what our Lord describes here, "Gold, and white clothing, and eye salve." We will see in a moment what those symbols stand for, but he alone possesses them. That is why it really does not make any difference whether we are persecuted, hounded by the government, put to death, or patronized and accepted. What the church needs is to be obtained only from Jesus, and our Lord tells us what it is.
First, "gold refined in the fire." Peter interprets that for us. He tells us that our faith is like gold refined in the fire: "More precious even than gold that perishes, though it be tried by fire," (1 Peter 1:7). Faith in God. Faith in his Word. Faith comes from Jesus. As we look to him our faith is awakened and stirred. We then see how true the Scriptures are, how they explain life and fit with all that we experience daily. That awakens a sense of confidence and faith, and that is what this church needed first. It lacked faith in God, but was resting on its own abilities or the world's resources.
Then, second, they needed white clothes: "white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness." Everyone is morally naked before God. Every one of us knows something about ourselves that we would not want anyone else to know. But God knows! He sees us in our nakedness. What does he offer for it? The righteousness of Christ! All through these letters we have seen that white clothes stand for redemption, for righteousness imparted by Christ. We are no longer to be clothed with our own self-righteousness, which Isaiah says is nothing but filthy rags in the sight of God, but we are to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ himself, a perfect righteousness which God accepts.
As a backup measure my dad set up an investment account with $1000 seed money. Not long afterward I cashed it in, to his great dismay—thus proving to him my complete lack of regard for the wise use of money.
Over the next 35 years my pay check continued to climb wonderfully. Not being married and not raising kids, my spending was carefree and generous.
Friends helped me set up a 501k channel along about 1987 (33 years ago) when my lab shrank drastically and my income became mostly SSI and a modest retirement check. I used my dozen credit cards for everything and paid only the account minimums. I always loved my job and poured myself into it. In 1977 too much drinking was clearly impairing my entire life and I spent two sessions in an superb alcohol recovery hospital. Success! Haven’t had a drink in 43 years.
In 2008 my doctor started me on the opioid pain killer Oxycontin which ending up stealing ten years from my life. My income dropped precipitously as one might expect, and finally I visited an excellent bankruptcy attorney in the area who led me through the process of filing a request with Federal bankruptcy court. Looking back on those days I can see now the terrible dumbing down I was experiencing from Oxy. My court appearance was uneventful. The judge granted my petition and wished me success in my writing and future. My attorney noted that no credit card companies were there to contest my bankruptcy petition. He told me they never lose money on credit card payment defaults because such “losses” are covered by their insurance! I was 77 years old when this took place.
My Oxycontin years. In June 2017 my daily dose of 160 mg per day of Oxy took its toll and I completed crashed and was taken to the ER where I very nearly died! But I was taken off of Oxy cold-turkey and did not die as my doctors expected. Phase Two of my life began in July 2017 with a complete reboot of my lapsed memory and health issues such as arthritis. My Near Death Experience
Though I had known Jesus Christ fifty-three years and been in “full-time Christian ministry” for more than thirty-five years I knew next to nothing about an intimate daily walk with Jesus Christ and one-step-at-a-time obedience. Suffice it to say, God has been opening my eyes one day at a time. As I often say, I feel today as if I have been “born again, again.” Here are some recent articles.
The parable of Jesus usually called, "The Parable of the Dishonest Steward" (Luke 16:1-13) is, in many ways, the most unusual parable Jesus ever told. It is taken out of the rough, cutthroat competition of business life, and reveals how thoroughly the Lord Jesus was in touch with life lived at its rawest and fiercest.
This is the story of what we would call "a big-time operator," an unscrupulous, dishonest rascal who worked for a man not much better than himself. When the story of this steward's deceit reaches his boss's ears he commends the steward for his dishonest cleverness, which proves that he was no better than the steward. It is the tale of two rogues, taken right out of the world of business. We do not need to spend much time with the story itself. It is so familiar, so frequently duplicated in our own day, we easily recognize it.
It is the story of a man who was entrusted with the use of another man's money, a familiar account of dubious speculations, padded expense accounts, lavish entertainment, and juggled bank accounts, until the day of reckoning comes. When the wasted expenditure of this steward came to light he was summarily ordered to turn over his books and to collect his last check. He is faced with the sudden loss of what he had long been taking for granted, and is forced to think soberly and seriously of the future.
Now this is the story that Jesus brings before us. What this man does and how he reacts makes a point from which Jesus draws a very important lesson for us. When this man faced the end of his stewardship, he began to think what he should do. He realized that he was too lazy to dig. Of course, he did not say that; he said what we would have said, "I am simply not strong enough any longer." He realized that he was too proud to beg. He did say that! "I am ashamed to beg," was the way he put it, which was nothing but pure pride, though he was not too proud to steal. So he hit upon an expedient. Very cleverly, he decides to take advantage of his position as the acknowledged handler of his master's goods, and before the news gets out that he has been fired, he will put all his master's creditors into his debt by diminishing their bills considerably, with the hope, or course, that he will find an open door with one of these men to whom he has done a favor when his own world comes crashing in upon him.
It was a very clever thing to do. It was thoroughly dishonest, but it was unquestionably shrewd, and Jesus, in telling this little story, acknowledges the fact. He says this man was dishonest. But he also says he was very prudent. And then he says, "The sons of this world are wiser in their own generation than the sons of light," by which he indicates that this man has something to teach us. He has a cleverness, a shrewdness, a prudence that it would be well for us to learn. Yet this story is subject to a good deal of misinterpretation unless we give close attention to the comments that our Lord makes following the story. Here lies the key to this parable.
Jesus makes four keen observations about this account that unfold to us some astonishing truth about the use of money. And if you question whether the subject of this story is money, I suggest you look at verse fourteen which follows the story:
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they scoffed at him. (Luke 16:14 RSV)
That is, these lovers of money laughed at Jesus because he was suggesting that there is a direct relationship between material and spiritual wealth. But Jesus confirms this with four observations, the first of which is in verse nine, in which the purpose of giving is illustrated:
"And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations." (Luke 16:9 RSV)
...This passage is addressed to the sons of light who are, of course, Christians. Christians have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son, Paul tells us. Not by our own merits, but, quite apart from them, we have been made fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul reminds us that we are to walk as children of light, those upon whom the light has shined. Now Jesus is saying, do what this steward did, imitate this man.
That is rather remarkable, is it not, for this is a dishonest, thoroughly unscrupulous man? But we are not urged to imitate his dishonesty. We do that all too frequently and easily anyway! But we are to imitate his prudence, his wisdom, for within the limits of this man's vision he was a very wise person. The limit of his vision is found in the phrase, "in their own generation." The sons of this world are wiser in their own generation, within the limits of their thinking, than the children of light. This man was a child of his own generation. His thinking was bounded by the times in which he lived. It was thoroughly materialistic.
Like many today, his thinking was bounded on the north by his bank account, on the south by his credit card, on the east by the stock market, and on the west by the Internal Revenue Department. Within that realm all his thinking moved.
But within that realm, Jesus said, he was a very wise individual; he did something very shrewd and prudent indeed. Our Lord is saying, most remarkably, to us that if we take this story, apart from its dishonest aspects, every Christian is in exactly the same boat as this man. For we, like him, are facing the certain and impending end of all our material resources. "It shall fail," says Jesus, and we know that is true. Within a few years at best, each one of us, no matter whether it be the youngest among us, knows that we shall stand naked before God, that we will have no wealth, no money, no titles, no influence. All will be left behind, and all material values for us will suddenly be worth absolutely nothing. We are facing the imminent certain end of all our material resources...
Or can we? Is there anything that we can carry across with us to the other side? Is there no link at all between this life and that life yonder? Yes, says Jesus, there is one thing you can take with you -- friends! Meaningful personal relationships, ties of spiritual life-sharing, family ties in Christ, all these survive death, he says, If you are wise, you will use your money to make friends...
For Jesus says specifically that the friends that are made on this side by means of the mammon of unrighteousness can be there to welcome us into the eternal habitations. Surely he means that close spiritual ties, made here in this life, survive death, and such loved ones will be there to welcome us on the other side.
The amazing thing is Jesus' statement that we can use money, which he calls "unrighteous mammon," to gain friends who are made righteous by faith. When he says "unrighteous mammon," he does not mean that money is wicked. Scripture never says that money is the root of all evil, as it is sometimes quoted as saying. It is the love of money which is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10), and loving money is simply another expression for serving mammon. When Jesus speaks of unrighteous mammon, he means that money is neither righteous nor wicked. Money is neither moral nor immoral -- it is non-moral. It is an instrument either for good or evil, depending on which way it is used.
He is saying to the sons of light that they are to use money for eternal good. In the Sermon on the Mount he said, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:20), and this is the way it is done. Use your money in such a way that you are winning others, not only to Christ, but to yourself, for you never win anyone to Christ without winning him, in some degree, to yourself. By means of hospitality, or in giving to some missionary venture, or by investing a sum to help in a time of need, money may be used for eternal good. It is not enough to pray for the lost; we must pay for them too if we are going to win them and have them meet us on the other side...
Now our Lord is saying that the purpose of money, whether we have little or much, is to use it in the uncertain present in order to enrich the certain future. If you use it for anything else it is a waste. But he goes further still. Not only is the purpose of giving illustrated here, but in Verse 10 there is a parallel of living indicated:
"He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much." (Luke 16:10 RSV)
What do you understand by that? Do you take that to mean, if a man is faithful in greater things? That is the way it is frequently taken, but that entirely misses the point of what our Lord is saying. He is saying, "If you are faithful in little things today, you will be faithful also in great things today." That is, if you are faithful in that which is relatively inconsequential, it is a revelation that you are also being faithful in hidden, greater things at the same time. And if you are faithless, disobedient, in little things, it is a sure sign you are being faithless, disobedient, in the greater things. One reveals the other.
In the context of this story it is clear that the little things are the realm of material values: money, wealth, the use of our time and influence; while the greater things, the "much" that he is referring to is in the realm of spiritual realities, the true riches of which he speaks a little later. He says there is a direct parallel between these two. If a man does not give as he should, as a Christian, then it is also true he does not live as he should, as a Christian. He will never be faithful in the little unless he is being faithful in the much.
Jesus is simply indicating that one who faithfully seeks to walk in truth in those hidden areas of his life that no other man can properly evaluate is also equally faithful in the visible aspects of giving; you cannot separate them. One who seldom gives, or gives sporadically, is equally spasmodic in spiritual matters.
I have found this demonstrated time and time again. Jesus is simply saying that faithfulness in our giving is a quite proper thermometer of our spiritual life. He is not talking about the amount of giving at all; he is talking about faithfulness in it. How faithful are we in reckoning up what we have and what we can do and then doing it? That is his great concern.
You see how this precludes all possibility of Christians living their lives in compartments? Life is not made up like Time Magazine, with a page for economics, one for religion, one for politics and another one for social life. You cannot be one thing on one level and another thing on another level. No, life is one great coordinated whole: If you are weak on one level, you are weak to some degree on all levels. It is so well expressed by that Negro spiritual, "Dry Bones." "The foot bone connected to the anklebone, the anklebone connected to the leg bone, the leg bone connected to the knee bone, the knee bone connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone connected to the hip bone," and so on. You cannot stop until you get the whole man hooked up together. Life is one coordinated whole.
Now Jesus presses this matter still further. Not only is there a parallel of living revealed in the way we use money, but, in Verses11-12, he declares that a principle of learning is implied:
"If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?" (Luke 16:11-12 RSV)
Who is this that gives true riches, gives us what is our own? It is the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit imparts to us true riches, and what are these if not the riches of grace in Christ Jesus? In other words, the power and the blessing that you and I crave so intently in our Christian experience, that which Jesus Christ is come to impart to us, that which lends color and purpose and power to live, these are the values that make life an enriched experience, and only the Holy Spirit can give them. Jesus is saying, "if we are disobedient in matters involving these simple commands concerning our material needs, how will the Holy Spirit entrust us with spiritual power?"
Jesus said to Nicodemus in the third chapter of John, "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" (John 3:12 RSV). If, on this level, there is no obedience, there is no readiness to yield our wills, and to do what he says, then we have shut the door to the greater riches that he longs to impart to us. Is this, perhaps, a clue to a very widespread and perplexing phenomenon in Christian experience?
I am referring to the remarkable dullness and slowness we often exhibit in grasping spiritual truths. Sometimes I shake my head over occasions when I have repeatedly gone over some passage of Scripture, or some truth that someone desperately needs to see, how slow he is to grasp it. Then I remember how slow I was to grasp the same truth. Perhaps we need to start our obedience at a lower level. If we obey in these lesser things, if we are faithful in the little, Jesus says, the doors of spiritual power will be open to us and the riches of Christ will become our experience. In the book of Proverbs the same truth is stated: "A liberal man will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered," (Proverbs 11:25 KJV)...
Every one of us is responsible, not for what another in our family has, but what we have, what we control, and if, on this level of things, we are disobedient, we are closing the door to the possibility of understanding a great deal of truth that lies beyond.
Now, our Lord presses this matter even further to the final and ultimate revelation involved in this. He says that even beyond the purpose of giving, and the parallel of living, and the principle of learning that is wrapped up in this matter of giving, in the way we handle our money, a priority of loving is involved:
"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13 RSV)
Either we love God or we love money. Each of these, by their very nature, makes a totalitarian claim upon us, and we cannot give ourselves half and half. We think we can; we are continually trying to do it on that basis. We delude ourselves into thinking that while some of the time we may step over the line in material things, for the rest of the time we faithfully serve God. "No!" says Jesus, "you cannot serve God and mammon." No compromise between the two is possible. You can use mammon for the service of God, but you can never use God to serve mammon -- never! The love of money is really the love of self. If we succeed in our pursuit of wealth and a higher standard of living, the inevitable result in our lives is that we become increasingly self-centered, for the love of money is the love of self. If, on the other hand, try as we will we, can never accumulate a dime and, in our pursuit of wealth we fail, the inevitable result is self-pity and we become embittered and critical and caustic toward others.
This is but a revelation that we are to some degree captured by the deceitfulness of riches. On the other hand, love of God inevitably means love of man and readiness to meet the needs and to minister to the yearnings of men. The love of God is the only thing I know that makes a heart really go out to men in their need. Jesus is simply saying, in searching purity, that it is no good to say we love God while we withhold our funds and live on a continually rising standard of living. We only delude ourselves when we do. It is possible for a while, even for a genuine Christian, as he is temporarily blinded by ignorance or lust, but when the issue is squarely set before us and we must choose between what we really want and what we say we want, then the way we choose reveals whom we serve, who has the priority of love in our life...
This is what Jesus said. "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon..." What is Money For? By Ray C. Stedman.
Psalm 50 awhile back showed me that everyone and everything belongs to God! He is the Owner, the Landlord, the Heir of all things. At immense cost to Himself He has made it possible for any of us to know Him and enjoy Him forever. He has given us all things to enjoy! He is now about to reclaim the entire planet in stages!
The Mighty One, God the LORD,
Has spoken and called the earth
From the rising of the sun to its going down.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth.
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent;
A fire shall devour before Him,
And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.
He shall call to the heavens from above,
And to the earth, that He may judge His people:
“Gather My saints together to Me,
Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”
Let the heavens declare His righteousness,
For God Himself is Judge. Selah
“Hear, O My people, and I will speak, O Israel,
and I will testify against you;
I am God, your God!
I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices
Or your burnt offerings,
Which are continually before Me.
I will not take a bull from your house,
Nor goats out of your folds.
For every beast of the forest is Mine,
And the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the mountains,
And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you;
For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls,
Or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God thanksgiving,
And pay your vows to the Most High.
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to declare My statutes,
Or take My covenant in your mouth,
Seeing you hate instruction
And cast My words behind you?
When you saw a thief, you consented with him,
And have been a partaker with adulterers.
You give your mouth to evil,
And your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
You slander your own mother’s son.
These things you have done, and I kept silent;
You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.
“Now consider this, you who forget God,
Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:
Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God.”
With my friend Cornelius Burrow March 12, 2020
Life at Pomeroy Palace
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