This week’s money and stewardship devotional from the four Gospels* is from Luke 10:25-37, about the connection between believing and helping our neighbors, from the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Much of the time we think about money, it has to do with what we want. Someone once said; “I am not capable of a selfless thought.” I think this is probably true for everyone. When we read the Bible, are we looking for some kind of verse that may promise some blessing for ourselves? Some Bible scholars say that in a way you can read between the lines when you read the Bible. Reading between the lines of the New Testament, I can’t find any promises for wealth for me personally if I will only do this or that. When you read through the Gospels you can see people throwing questions at Jesus all the time; people on the street, teachers in the temple and his Apostles. I am confident that when the question about having a life of wealth was on the minds of bystanders, they either asked him and he didn’t answer, or people kept the question in their mind and didn’t want to look rude or silly. Read between the lines, Jesus often talked about promises he made to followers, but they never had to do with their obtaining wealth, possessions and power- in this life.
On the day that Jesus was asked about how to obtain eternal life by an expert in the law. Pre-Jesus experts in Biblical law, had a terrible task of searching the scriptures, trying to both understand the mind of God, and understand all of the many laws about dozens of things, including simple tasks of eating, cleaning and money. Part of what these experts were trying to do, was to know what would bring them a particular blessing or curse, both to individuals and people groups. This expert was trying to get that nice formula for achieving the inheritance of eternal life. Don’t we do the same thing today? We want to have the checklist for our personal well being both today and in eternity.
In the Bible there is no example of the “pray-the-prayer,’ for eternal life. This would have been a great opportunity for Jesus to provide that. Most Biblical scholars though do agree that there does come a time, a point of demarcation, when we choose to walk with Jesus from now on, and that marks our permanent salvation. A sign of believers doing this, is a life not focused on selfish ambition, according to Jesus.
In this parable, the signs of eternal life were (Luke 10:27-28):
- “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’
- ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
- Read between the lines: don’t love yourself with all of your effort and thinking
Jesus described the neighbor as
- A naked, bleeding and dying man by the road (Luke 10:30)
- A man that wasn’t liked either because of race, ethnicity, religion, station in life or town, city, state or nation he was from, or someone other people avoided (Luke 10:31-32)
- Someone needing first aid medical care (Luke 10:34)
- Someone who needed transportation (Luke 10:34)
The believer was someone who:
- Was inconvenienced
- Gave money for caring
- Traveled with
- Stayed nearby for a while after getting him to his destination
Reading between the lines: not someone who asked for something in return from God or the man that was helped, or praise from friends
In conclusion: There are many important lessons to learn here, about all kinds of various subjects. However, there is a strong financial teaching here. The believer’s heart is for others long before ourselves- even when it comes to our time and money. Lastly, when we call out to Jesus, or when we search the Bible for answers to questions about our financial dreams and needs, where do our concerns for our own financial wants come into play? It is always good medicine for God to search our hearts about this, Psalm139:23.
*A chronological examination of any verse that involves money and stewardship, attempting to see the new light that Jesus shines on money in His ‘for-us’ but selfless, grace filled, Holy Spirit empowered, and Kingdom oriented positions. This is the thirty sixth post in this series.