Journal Luke 16 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 17:10
“The Pharisees (who were lovers of money), heard all these things and they ridiculed (Jesus).
And (Jesus) 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.
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. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”” Luke 16:14-17
Observation: Sometimes I have to read and re-read, and ditto for years to peel back and unpack what the Holy Spirit wants me to understand on a number of levels about the Scriptures—in this case, it may be embracing the faithfulness found in the Gospel.
Analysis: You gotta read slowly through Luke 17.
Jesus starts off sounding like he is speaking exclusively about money. But, while he is using money as a focal point, perhaps the faithfulness he alludes to isn’t only about money…
The way I spend money I can justify. Of course, I have an answer. I buy this, or that…it is because I need it or want it. I justify my use of a credit card in the same way; “It is the way life is lived in this day and time…” However, like I am not addressing the management of money here, I am thinking that the deeper message Jesus is addressing is “faithfulness” and especially “faithfulness in the transparency of my heart.”
The Pharisee action of self-justifying isn’t only how they live their life and spend their money; it extends specifically to how they justify themselves before God.
“Look at my outsides; look at my actions. I tithe against everything I have. I am moral, I am religious, I do what the Law says to do.” But a Pharisee does not come before God and rend his heart.
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning, and rend your hearts and not your garments…” Joel 2:12-13a
I have always had a tough time with “…the good news of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.” Matthew puts it this way: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matt11:12). Could this be an allusion to people twisting redemption violently by preaching conformity to doing things by the Law, rending, tearing the Law up, and not tearing, rending my heart before the Most High God? This has the sensation of having legs, of being scripturally reasonable.
Nevertheless, for me it is clear: If I am not faithfully looking at myself through the lens of the Gospel, “rending” my heart and resting in His Justification and not my own, then I am putting on the garments of a Pharisee.
Prayer: Father, I want to be faithful in coming to you in secret, fully in front of you, rending my heart in worship. No flowery words: I want to avoid flaunting in public as to say, “look at me, aren’t I religiously impressive to look at?”, but I do want to be an example of what the obedience to the scriptures looks like in a humble way—especially to my wife.
Please make these scripture references clearer and clearer as the years go by…