Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: Living Generously
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
October 11, 2009
Last time we saw how the dishonest manager squandered his master’s wealth and learned that God calls us to be faithful managers of everything God has blessed us with. This week we look at the Pharisees and the story of Lazarus and the rich man and we see that how we manage our resources in this life impacts our lives for eternity.
1. The Response of the Pharisees (vs. 11-18)
The Pharisees respond to Jesus’ preaching by ridiculing him because they loved money more than they loved God. Literally, the word means to lift your nose, snub him. Their sin caused them to reject both the messenger and his message. How we respond to preaching and teaching can be an indicator of the condition of our heart (except for the obvious exceptions). If we are critical, resistant, uninterested, to the message or the messenger we need to ask ourselves why am I responding the way I am? Is it confronting some sin in my heart? Am I wanting to avoid the issue? Is there pride in my heart?
Listen to Jesus’ rebuke, ‘you seek to justify yourselves before men but God knows your hearts.’ You can do all you want to justify yourself before others but in the end God knows your real motives the condition of your heart. You cannot hide your heart from God. That is why Jesus consistently goes after the heart. The heart is the wellspring of life; it determines whether our lives produce fruit or thorns. The Pharisees have sought to justify their greed and covetousness hearts as the blessing of God and it had calloused them to the needs of the people, poor, the suffering. They were very religious but they were devoted to what they really loved –money and wealth. God was a hobby; money was a passion. They were very involved in church, wanted their kids involved in youth group but in every day life, God was an afterthought. The Pharisees did not really love God, they loved money. It is an abomination to God because it is idolatrous. It is a wrong view of the law to think you can do the right things without the right heart (Isa 56; 58). Doing sacrifices is not what counts but do you love me and care for people. The issue is do you love me, do you desire me, pursue me, do you have an appetite for me.
The Law and the prophets were until John and since then the good news of the kingdom is preached. God has two phases in his program. Phase one was the law and the prophets; phase two is the Coming King. Phase one, the Old Covenant is one of promise; phase two, the New Covenant is one of fulfillment (Luke 24:44). The Pharisees rejected phase two, King Jesus because they loved money. Jesus is saying pursue me, holiness begins with pursuing me and letting me transform your heart. As a matter of fact the more you pursue me, treasure me, the more your heart will be transformed and the love of money will lose its’ grip on your heart. Sin is not overcome by shear discipline but by a growing love for Jesus that will overcome the power of that sin.
All of us come here for different reasons. Some of us are here because we want to do the right thing. We want to be good people, we want moral kids and have positive influences, or we grew up in church and so it is the right thing to do but we do not have a heart for Jesus, there is no pursuit of him, we have no appetite for him. If that is you, you are going to have a big surprise when you die. I want to make this very clear – your number one propriety being involved in a church, a faith community, must be because you want to pursue Christ, you want more of him, because you love him. If your spiritual life boils down to involvement in church related activities but you have no appetite for Jesus, you have no desire to learn his word, to spend time with him, you are not driven to know him and desire him you are not serious about God. You are like a Pharisee, a good religious moralist but you are probably not a Christ follower. That is what the illustration on marriage is all about. The Rabbis made divorce easy, made is easy to justify sin, just like evangelicals do, and Jesus says they have contributed to people sinning by committing adultery. Now, this is not the only statement in scripture on marriage and divorce and it is not his point to give you everything on divorce but he is saying that the Rabbi’s have justified divorce and contribute to the sin of others. Again, they may be very religious but do not take God or his word seriously.