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Do Your Money Habits Reflect Jesus or the Pharisees?

  • Patrick Johnson Contributing Writer
  • Published Mar 15, 2013
Do Your Money Habits Reflect Jesus or the Pharisees?

“The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus” Luke 16:14)

It’s no secret.  The Pharisees don’t have the best reputation. Jesus gave them a fairly substantial black eye.  Actually, to be more accurate, Jesus exposed their dirty laundry.

Nobody in the Christian world aspires to be a Pharisee. In an “us vs. them” world, the Pharisees are “them.”

But as much as we speak against the Pharisees and their legalistic tendencies, we have a problem. Some passages of Scripture indicate that we are closely related to them. Sometimes we identify with them even more than we identify with Jesus.

Luke 16 is a case in point. Jesus has just finished telling a parable about the dangers of money. Then, in verse 13, He says, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." In other words, He tells everyone listening that Money is an idol. It is a god.

Verse 14 says that the Pharisees loved money. In fact, that verse says that they thought Jesus was out of His mind for refusing to join their money-loving-group. They sneered at Him for these remarks…isn’t that a telling statement?

How to be a Pharisee

When Luke says that the Pharisees loved money, he moves me dangerously close to the Pharisee camp. This issue is a little too close to home for my comfort! I tend to say things like “I appreciate money” or “it must be nice to have money (relatively speaking).” But, in truth, every one of us who is pursuing the American Dream feels a pull toward Money. We “need” money to accommodate our lifestyles. We desire money to fulfill our dreams.

Let’s be honest. When we stop dancing around this issue…the truth is that most of us love money.

We are the Pharisees. We love the benefits of wealth. So, if we want to be like the Pharisees, we simply need to sit back and enjoy the comforts of our Money. But, if we want to be like Jesus, maybe we should rethink our money strategy.

How to Be Like Jesus

“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 16:9-31).

Everywhere that Jesus went, He gave. He did not worry about accumulating wealth on earth. He had seen the riches of eternity and knew that Mammon was a poor substitute for true riches. He did not worry about what He would eat or what He would wear, because the Father knew of those needs. Jesus trusted the Father as His Provider.

Since He didn’t have those worries, He gave. He gave from His material possessions, He gave from His time, He gave from His wisdom and He gave as He served the hurting. He was always giving.

More than that, He empowered others to give. 

  • When He sent the seventy-two disciples out… He gave them the authority and power they needed to heal the sick and share the good news of the Kingdom of God.
  • When He called Peter to step on top of the water… He was empowering him to give faith to the rest of the world.
  • When He entrusted believers with His message… He afforded us the opportunity to give the hope of God to our friends, family members and neighbors.

He not only used His material possessions to win friends for eternity, but He also regularly connected His followers with opportunities to give.

So, how can we imitate Jesus? Live a life of generosity and regularly connect others with opportunities to give.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be like Jesus…I’m tired of acting like a Pharisee.

Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Used with permission.

GenerousChurch helps leaders like you release generosity in your church through leadership development, campaigns, and culture change. Our books, online learning, coaching, events, and web resources will help you expand the impact of your leaders, change your money conversation, and grow the giving capacity of your people. We partner with National Christian Foundation, along with other ministry alliances.

Publication date: March 15, 2013