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God’s Word for You

Luke 16:13-15 an abomination

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, October 18, 2018

13 “No servant can serve two masters. 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 both God and money.”  14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.  15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly valued among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

After Jesus’ clear and simple statement in verse 13, the Pharisees “ridiculed” him. The Greek word exemykteridzon (ἐξεμυκτήριζον) literally means “they turned up their noses at him,” which must have been a particularly insulting gesture in their day. Why did they ridicule him? Jesus and his disciples had almost no money of their own—it’s easy to call a rich man a sinner when you’re a poor man. Also, if Jesus was truly a prophet, shouldn’t he concern himself with spiritual things and not base matters like money? But Jesus knew what was in their hearts. He knew that for them, money was an idol. Theirs was a First Commandment sin.

Sin doesn’t love to sit all by itself. It wants all sorts of company, either from many other sinners of the same sin, or lots of other sinners of other sins, or at least many other sins in the same sinner. This was the attitude of Adam and Eve when they were confronted with their sins in the Garden (Genesis 2:12-13) and that sinful attitude crouches at the door of every one of us. When we try to reject our sins as the Pharisees did here, we are turning up our noses at the cross of Jesus Christ. We must never, never try to justify ourselves, to overturn the guilty verdict God has pronounced over our sins and try to find some loophole in the law. What good would that do? Can a man win an argument with God? Two of Job’s friends asked similar questions: “Can a man be more righteous than God?” (Eliphaz, Job 4:17); “Can a man be righteous [at all] before God?” (Bildad, Job 25:4). If God has judged, it is man’s place to hang his head down, not to turn up his nose. Jesus is preaching against the sin of greed in particular. “No immoral, impure, or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5). Man’s place is to be rescued by Christ, not to pretend he doesn’t need rescuing.

Jesus’ point here is really the same one he made with the parable of the Shrewd Manager. Value the things that are heavenly, not the things that are earthly. Even the earthly things that are not sinful by themselves are only temporary. A person can learn to manage money and use it for good, but it’s not the gospel. Appreciate the things of this world but treasure the gospel. Don’t worship anything but God. What God calls an abomination is something that should cause all of God’s children to run away. “When you see ‘the abomination…,’” Jesus said, “let those who are in Judea flee” (Mark 13:14). Flee to Jesus “and hold fast to him” (Deuteronomy 10:20). Let him be what you value most.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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