God and Wealth

“You cannot serve God and wealth.”- Luke 16:13

Everyone has a primary devotion. There is one ultimate in our lives, one thing that draws our attention and time. Of course, Jesus understood this. After speaking to his disciples about shrewdness and wealth, he concluded by telling them, “ You cannot serve God and wealth.” Jesus was speaking against a religious culture that equated blessedness with wealth and money. Wealth was seen as a “material witness” to the blessedness and faithfulness of its possessor. In other words, one’s wealth proved one’s fidelity to God and blessedness by God.

Wealth, however, doesn’t necessarily equate to faithfulness to God. In fact, wealth has its own demands separate from God. Wealth (or the more traditional rendering mammon) can be a demanding taskmaster that leads us to worship status and objects rather than God. Wealth can seduce us and lead us to believe that it is the sustainer of life and not God.

Jesus is being clear that there are no rivals to or replacements of God. Our devotion is to him first and foremost. All other devotions flow out of our devotion to God. Love of neighbor, family, nation etc. for the Christ follower starts with love and devotion to God. We either choose to put God first or we choose to live in idolatry of wealth.

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