Amos 8.4-7 I will never forget your deeds, you who trample on the needy
1 Timothy 2.1-8 Pray for everyone to God, who wants everyone to be saved
Luke 16.1-13 You cannot be the slave of both God and money
‘You cannot serve God and wealth.’ (Luke 16.13)
It’s pretty blunt.
‘You cannot serve God and wealth.’
If you are in thrall to wealth, you cannot serve God.
If you truly serve God, then wealth and the acquisition of money for the sake of it cannot be on your radar.
It’s often heard as a condemnation of the rich, but that is not what is said.
Jesus does not say, ‘you cannot serve God and be wealthy’
Rather he says, ‘you cannot serve God and wealth.’
If we think this is just about the rich we miss the point.
The rich can of course be obsessed with wealth, and so can the poor, and so can those in the middle.
This is about our spiritual disposition.
The question is: what really drives your devotion? Where do you invest your value and meaning?
It is the case, as Jesus puts it elsewhere, ‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ (Luke 12.34).
If what you treasure is money and the acquisition of money then God will be far from your heart.
Is money your master? Or do you have mastery over money? Are you a servant of wealth or do you use what you have to serve others?
We must be realistic; money is important; money enables things to happen, from the basics of buying food and clothing, to the ability to have a treat.
Jesus does not condemn that!
And let me say that worrying about money when money is short is not what we’re talking about here.
The cost of living crisis and escalating fuel bills will make us all more worried about money than perhaps we have been before.
That’s the case on a personal level; it’s true for the church: how the church has to resist thinking just about money and not about the treasure of the Gospel!
Still, whether we have a lot of money or very little, Jesus’ blunt saying asks us to see beyond wealth and material gain to what true treasure is.
St Peter once encountered a man sitting outside the Temple in Jerusalem who could not walk and was begging.
What could Peter give him?
‘Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ (Acts 3.6).
We may not be wealthy, but we still have treasure to give.
Ultimately money, whilst vital, cannot save.
The treasure we serve is not the treasure of gold or silver but a treasure deeper and richer than anything we can imagine; that is the power of God and promise of heaven.
For the Church, and personally, this means seeing the abundance in what we have and not always seeing scarcity wherever we look; seeing abundance in a creation - a spirit of gratitude makes that possible.
In turn we need to know ourselves to be treasured by God; that is why his own Son gave up everything out of love for us.
Flowing from the awareness that each of us is precious, Christians have always treasured those who society does not value: the unborn, the distressed, the disfigured, the dying.
Serving God not wealth, means that we don’t see people as economic units, either net contributors or recipients, rather all people are the people God’s treasures.
‘You cannot serve God and wealth’ says the Lord.
Serve wealth and bow down before it and you will imperil your soul; use wealth in service of God and his people and your treasure is in abundance of life in this world and the next.