Luke 16:14-18 (ESV)

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. 16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. 18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

Although Jesus was speaking to his disciples, the Pharisees overheard him teaching his earlier parable and point. They didn’t like being told that God wanted them to be generous with their resources and use their wealth for his glory. They ridiculed Jesus, literally scoffing at what he said. Jesus responded to them with a strong statement. He revealed that they were living to win the approval men, and their selfish attitudes were not pleasing God. They should have known that God’s opinion was far more important than what people thought, but they were caught up in trying to impress others. Then Jesus declared, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Jesus taught them that God hates their self-love and craving for one another’s praise. People who exalt themselves are detestable to God. Jesus then announced that the Law and the Prophets closed with John. Now that Jesus was on the scene, a new era had come. Then Jesus added, “everyone forces his way into” the kingdom of God. The Greek verb translated as “forces” is in the middle or passive voice, and some suggest the phrase would be better translated as “all are strongly urged to come to.” This would make sense in light of the context of Jesus’ teaching. Those who heard his repeated exhortations may have thought they could take his message or leave it, but they were wrong. The need to respond to Jesus’ appeal to repent and believe was quite serious and couldn’t be overlooked.

The Pharisees turned up their noses at Jesus when he taught about wealth and money. Who was Jesus to talk about finances? He was a poor man surrounded by other poor men. What did he know about money? In fact, the Pharisees assumed that being blessed with much was a sign of God’s favor. According to their logic, God wasn’t all that thrilled with Jesus, or he would have given him a little more cash. But Jesus clearly taught that God sees and knows the heart. He isn’t impressed with the outward appearance of things. What is your attitude toward money? Do you feel like those with monetary wealth are better than those who struggle financially? Do you treat people differently based on the size of their bank account? If there’s any hint of favoritism toward the rich within you, ask that God would take it away and make you more like Jesus today.