“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11)
After sharing the parable of the shrewd manager, Jesus offers a number of comments about money and wealth, and suggests that there is a correlation between good stewardship of worldly wealth and the true riches available to us from God’s Spirit.
If we are careless with worldly things and wealth, why should God trust us with the true riches of faith in him and his presence through the gifts and fruit of his Holy Spirit?
Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10) Some examples come to mind such as taking advantage of a sales clerk’s mistake of giving back too much change; overestimating mileage for personal use of a car for reimbursement on an expense account; helping yourself to office supplies for personal use. How strong is our integrity if we can’t be trusted with taking ownership of small things that don’t belong to us?
Petty theft erodes our integrity and faithfulness to truth in both our actions and beliefs. It dulls our sense of goodness and justice and how we relate with others, for the focus is inward on ourselves instead of outward on God and others. Like a distant black hole in the universe we keep the light that Christ offers from shining outward. This self-focus is an obstacle to our truly experiencing God in a personal, close way through his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
To all of this, Jesus adds the admonition that “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13) While God expects us to work in order to take care of ourselves and his creation, he does not want this to become our principal focus to the exclusion of our love and pursuit of him.
Success in the workplace, moving up the corporate ladder and earning more money are not bad in themselves, but they should not be our primary focus. Our first priority should be to love God and seek his will in all things. I have written in these pages before how my focus as young attorney for a large corporation got out of whack early in my career, detracting both from my relationship with God and my family. Fortunately by God’s loving grace and a personal encounter with Jesus, he opened my eyes to what was happening and helped me to change my priorities.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 CO 4:18)