Commands of Christ: 69

Use temporal wealth for eternal purposes.

I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.  Luke 16:9

Jesus said this in the context of His telling of the parable of the shrewd manager.  He followed it up with His statement that whoever is faithful in little will be faithful with much.  He clarifies and illustrated that statement by saying,

So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?  No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”  The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.  He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.”  Luke 16:11-15

Our use of wealth in this life is a test of our hearts and can be a tool to use for eternal purposes.  Are we seeking God or wealth?  Are we living and serving for the kingdom of this world or the Kingdom of God?  Clearly God has a purpose for our use of money other than our own pleasure and comfort.  Jesus tells us to use temporal wealth for eternal purposes.

Commands of Christ: 68

Exalt the humble and serve them.

Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.  Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;  blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14

Jesus isn’t saying we shouldn’t seek reward for our actions.  He is saying we should seek reward in eternity rather than in the “here and now.”  He is saying we should seek reward that is truly valuable because it endures rather than deceptive and temporal reward.  It is a sign of maturity and wisdom to understand delayed gratification.  God is concerned to exalt the humble and to serve and bless them.  He asks us to do the same.  He sacrificed His very life to serve others, including us.  He sends us to do the same, to live a life of sacrificial service.  He will reward His children who live in that way.  Do not be deceived, there are degrees of reward in heaven.  That is a clear teaching in Scripture and the subject of several of Jesus’ parables.  Aspire to please God and hear Jesus say, “Well done, you good and faithful servant.”

Commands of Christ: 67

Humble yourself.

“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,  and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place.  Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Luke 14:8-11

With people, sometimes the proud are allowed to exalt themselves, but this never happens with God.  In the end, everyone who exalts themselves will be humbled.  Scripture repeatedly tells us that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  There are numerous examples of that, psalms and proverbs about it, and Jesus’ own teachings and illustrations such as His story of the Pharisee and the tax collector.  Pride is the complete anti-God state of mind.  It is the primary sin of Satan.  C.S. Lewis called it “the cardinal sin.”  It is insidious and deceptive.

The root of pride often comes from comparing ourselves with others.  If we are going to compare ourselves with anything else, it needs to be with God Himself and His standards.  That will lead us to humility and to dependence on God and worship of God and gratitude to Him.

Commands of Christ: 66

Be ready and watching for My return.

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning,  like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”   Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”  The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?  It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.  Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.  But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk.  The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.  The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows.  But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  Luke 12:35-48

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.  Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?  It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.  Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.  But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’  and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.  The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.  He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”   Matthew 24:42-51

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.  Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.  It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.  Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”  Mark 13:28-37

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees.  When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.  Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.  For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth.  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”  Luke 21:29-36

This command of Jesus is both important and urgent.  He calls for vigilance.  He calls for faithfulness.  He calls for consistency.  He warns against selfishness, laziness, and distracting anxiety.  We are to live in a state of service to our King.  It is not that we can thereby earn our salvation, but it is evidence of whom we serve.  There are evidently those who claim to serve the Lord, but their lives betray the fact that they are actually serving themselves.  They will be cast out by the Lord when He returns.  As His servants, we are to constantly be about carrying out His instructions and His desires so we will be ready for His return at all times.

Commands of Christ: 65

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. 

An official asked him this question, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.  You know the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother.’”  And he replied, “All of these I have observed from my youth.”  When Jesus heard this he said to him, “There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  But when he heard this he became quite sad, for he was very rich. Luke 18:18-23

Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”  He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”  He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness;  honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”  Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19:16-22

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Luke 12:33

I find it interesting that every time I have heard anyone teach on the Luke 18 or Matthew 19 passages above, they are quick to point out that the Lord is asking that particular individual to do this, and it isn’t intended for others.  The Luke 12 passage above, however, is a general teaching given to His disciples.  It seems clear from that passage that Jesus is instructing us not to accumulate wealth but rather to be generous in giving our surplus to those in need.  This command comes with a promise of wealth in heaven in all three passages.  Our hearts are where our treasure is.  To say it differently, what we treasure is what we value.  If we value the principles and purposes of the Kingdom it will be reflected in how we use our lives and our resources.

Commands of Christ: 64

Do not fear.

Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.  Luke 12:32

We have a faithful and gracious and omnipotent God who provides us eternal and abundant life.  What is there to fear?  Any suffering or deprivation or sorrow is temporary and transient.  Redemption and fulfillment and joy are our eternal destiny.  Therefore, Jesus commands us not to fear.  We are to keep our eyes fixed on the Kingdom of God rather than on this world.

Commands of Christ: 63

Beware of all greed.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  Luke 12:15

Jesus illustrated this command by telling the parable of the Rich Fool.  Jesus made it clear that no matter how comfortable and pleasurable and easy you may be in this life, it will mean absolutely nothing if you are miserable and suffering for all eternity.  He made it clear that being rich toward God is quite different than being rich in this world.  In fact, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says we cannot serve both God and wealth.  It is one or the other.  They are mutually exclusive as a goal or a motivator.  We will definitely be called upon many times to sacrifice our own comfort and pleasure in this life in order to serve the purposes of God.

Commands of Christ: 62

Be generous to the poor.

Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?  But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. Luke 11:39-41

This command is reminiscent of the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament.  God continually shows concern for the poor, the needy, the disadvantaged, the disenfranchised.  He commands His people to care for them.  This is not to earn favor with God by our pious actions.  It is to honor Him and demonstrate our love for Him and others, displaying His character and His nature in our daily conduct and generosity and concern.

Commands of Christ: 61

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”  Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:28-31

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”  He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,  and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking,  “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  He said to him,  “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and the first commandment.  The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40

According to Jesus, this command, know as the Great Commandment, summarizes God’s revealed will in the Old Testament.  That is an impressive statement.  Jesus tells us in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:17-20, that following Scripture is a serious issue which His followers should pay close attention to.  In its Old Testament context, this is the command which God’s people were commanded to be in constant awareness of.  They were to speak of this constantly in their conversations at home and outside.  They were to put reminders on their clothing and their doorposts to continually make them aware of it.  This was the defining characteristic of their lives in every activity at every time.  It needs to be the same for us today.

Commands of Christ: 60

Do not rejoice at power over demons, but over eternal life.

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  Luke 10:19-20

This command was in the context of debriefing ministry with the 72.  When they returned from their ministry they were particularly impressed by the authority the Lord had given them over demons.  Jesus was commenting here that they were missing the point.  In the big picture, this authority was simply a nice side benefit.  The big picture was their relationship to God and their place in His Kingdom.  That was the news.  That was the impressive fact.  That was the point of their ministry, to bring others into an awareness of and participation in this relationship and identity.