Contrast of abraham and lot – faith vs. sight; GENEROSITY vs. greed; godliness vs. worldliness – "So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches (spiritual knowledge)?" (Luke 16:11)
An anecdotal story of the ringtail monkey is the moral of the lesson today. This monkey was particularly difficult to catch but the natives outsmarted him because they knew his weakness. The monkey loved the seeds of a certain large melon so the natives would place one near his habitat and cut a hole in it just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand in it and grab the seeds. But once he grabbed them and clutched them in his fist his hand was too large to go back through the hole. Yet, he wouldn't let go of the seeds and the melon held him captive for the natives to simply take him. So the question for us is what do I want or trust in more than God? May we like Abraham learn to let go and let God meet our needs.
"So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right." (13.8-9) Here Abraham models unselfishness and humility (Phil. 2:3-4) and a desire to be a peacemaker even at his own risk of loss because of his confidence in God's continuing provision for him.
Lot models greed, selfishness and worldliness that stems from living by sight versus faith. He chose the best land but got the worst friends (13:13), a vexed life (2 Peter 2:8) and a poor end (Gen. 19:30-38). He moved near Sodom (13:12) then moved into Sodom (14:12). "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:1-4)
Only faith pleases God so what in your life right now requires you to exercise your faith in God? "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." We must believe that God exists (that He is more REAL than the real I can see with my eyes) and that He is a rewarder of those who seek hard after Him. Faith makes what we can't see REAL ("substance") to us now even when we don't have it now.
"The LORD said to Abram… "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever" (See 13:14-17) Faith and obedience bring revelation of God's will (John 14:21-23; 8:31-32; Col.1:9-10; Psalm 25:14) whereas serving money above God restricts spiritual knowledge and growth. "So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?" (Luke 16:11) A "paradise" now (Lot's choice) is inferior to God's promises for later.
Abraham goes to war (Chap.14) to rescue Lot and we are called to spiritual warfare for others and ourselves and to restoration of those who fall into sin. (Eph. 6:10-20; Gal. 6:1-2) He and his allies had complete success and regained the people (Lot and others) and all the goods stolen by the raiding party from Mesopotamia.
"Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything." (14:18-20) Scholars disagree on who Melchizedek is – a pre-incarnate Christ or a real man who was both King (of Jerusalem) and a priest of God, but he greatly encouraged Abraham and probably strengthened his faith to resist taking the goods from an evil king. As we regularly receive Christ's blessing of love (Luke 10:38-42) we will be less tempted to try to meet our fleshly desires through the things of the world.
Here is the first mention of the tithe in the Bible. The New Testament calls us to give in proportion to our income so as our income increases, our percentage of giving increases (1 Corinthians 16:2); 2) to give regularly (1 Corinthians 16:2); 3) to give sacrificially (Mark 12:41-44; 2 Corinthians 8:1-4) 4) to give joyfully and 5) generously (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). Jesus says that storing up treasures in heaven is the wisest investment we can make for ourselves and for the best possible purposes – people's and our eternal good (Luke 16:1-15; Matthew 16:19-21; 24). Money is both a responsibility (Luke 12:48) and a blessing to others and ourselves when, like all other gifts from God (time, talents, etc.), we steward it in light of our accountability before the Lord. (Matthew 25:14-30).
"But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, 'I made Abram rich." (14:22-23) We must, for the sake of God's glory and our own spiritual good, beware of doing any thing that looks evil, mercenary, covetous or self-seeking. Abraham knew the king of Sodom was a sinful man (13:13) and one that would want to turn such a thing as this for his own gain. When we have to deal with such men, we need to act with caution. "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers."(2 Cor. 6:14) and even believers or those who call themselves believers but are – "men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain." Abraham wanted God's glory, not financial gain. "But godliness with contentment is great gain." (1 Tim 6:5-6; also see Psalm 1:1)
Discussion Questions FOR APPLICATION OF GOD'S WORD
How did God speak to you today through the example of Abraham and Lot or the ringtail monkey story?
Only faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) so what in your life right now requires you to exercise your faith in God? How can you do that if you aren't?
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God."(Col. 1: 9-10) Note the reciprocal relationship between knowledge of God and obedience to that knowledge and thus gaining more spiritual knowledge. Contrast that to Luke 16:11 below and the Scriptures on New Testament giving.
As we regularly receive Christ's blessing of love through intimacy with Him (Luke 10:38-42) we will be less tempted to try to meet our fleshly desires through the things of the world. What's the "one thing needed" that Jesus speaks of in this passage?
"I will accept nothing belonging to you." Where do we need to apply Abraham's example of resisting wrong worldly gain in our own lives?
Scripture memory verse: "So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?" Luke 16:11