The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
(Luke 16:14-15 ESV)
Among other certain things about Jesus is that he didn’t pull his punches when it came to addressing the iniquities he saw. This particular episode in his engagement with the Pharisees is typical of that.
His stance was clear and uncompromising – you cannot serve God and money. It is one or the other. It was clear that the Pharisees looked to have the best of both worlds. Lauding it over others in their lofty position where the religion was concerned, whilst pursuing whatever riches they could get from it.
It’s why when Jesus goes on to speak of the story of Lazarus and the rich man it has a stinging rebuke for those who pursue riches at the neglect of their fellow man. It’s indicative of the corrupt state of the heart that someone can be suffering right on the doorstep and there’s no regard for their welfare by those in the position to do something about it. It’s indicative of the corrupt state of the heart that such a pitiless approach can be condoned where other slight infractions are met with fury and condemnation. It’s indicative of the corrupt state of the heart that a culture can foster and promote such an approach to faith and riches which is completely at odds with the rulership of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
So deeply entrenched is this though, that this story ends with the phrase that even if someone came from the dead, they would not be accepted and no repentance will take place. It’s a state of affairs that should send shivers down the spine that eternal destiny can be set based on the approach to riches.
This is not a hopeless situation. It is not a foregone conclusion that people with a focus on riches are without hope. It is an ongoing challenge to check our motives and consider who is Lord over them, who rules the acts, thoughts and words that come from us? Who rules in those areas? If we discover that we’re looking for the best of both worlds we can wake up to the reality that we will end up with neither. If we realise that indeed we are about the pursuit of riches and in that realisation see just how far we are from what truly enriches our lives, Jesus still invites us to see afresh and return to him. Allow him to rule and experience his character coursing through you and setting matters right. As he does so, not only will we be blessed, but we will be in the position to bless others with the unsearchable riches of Christ in their time of need.