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Posts Tagged ‘the world to come’

Our title this morning is “Be faithful in the little things.” We are looking at a principle that Jesus teaches and how he applies it to two different areas of our lives. The principle is stated most clearly in Luke 16:10. We can call it –

The principle of little and much

Luke 16:10 – “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is unreliable in a very little is also unreliable in much.”

(Unreliable is usually translated as “dishonest,” but the former seems more appropriate as a counterpoint to “faithful.” The principle is also in Matthew 25:21/23, see below. See also Luke 19:17. Luke 7:47 goes in a different direction.)

So we have what is little and what is much. And there is a relationship between them. How one does with what is little is a clear indicator of how one will do with much. This is stated in both a positive and a negative way – whether you are faithful or unreliable.

This principle can be applied in many ways, for instance with parents working with children or bosses with employees, or even in relationships. If someone you are dating treats you poorly or lies to you, you can be sure that they will do so once you are married. But our focus is on how Jesus applies this principle and first we look at the topic of –

How we use our wealth – Luke 16:11-13

The statement of our principle and these verses come right after the parable of the dishonest manager, which we looked at a few weeks ago. Let’s remember together briefly what it taught us:

There was a manager who had squandered his master’s funds and was about to be fired. But then he figured out how to take care of himself. He cut the debts of those who owed his master, so that they would like him and take care of him after he was fired and had no money. He said, “I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.” Luke 16:4. Through a shrewd use of his master’s wealth he took care of his future.

Jesus’ point is that Through a shrewd use of the world’s wealth (giving it to the needy) we take care of our future. He said at the end of the parable, “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” Luke 16:9  That is, the poor ones we help, will welcome us into the eternal kingdom.

And then comes v. 10 which states the principle of little and much, and then in Luke 16:11-12, Jesus applies this principle to the topic of wealth.

11If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” Here we learn that the wealth of this world is not real wealth. True riches, that don’t fail (v. 9) and that one has because of righteousness, as opposed to how things often work in this world, true riches will only be given out in the world to come.

12And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” Here we learn that the wealth of this world is another’s. But what we are given in the world to come is going to be our own.

And in both of these statements it is clear that the “little” has to do with what we do or don’t do in this world with the wealth God gives us. The “much” has to do with what we will be our situation in the world to come – whether we will have the true riches that are our own. And the first, what we do or don’t do with the little, determines the second – the much. Because God knows based on what we have done with what is little, how we will do with the much of what is to come in the kingdom.

The key in all of this is, ‘Will we give of our wealth to help the poor and needy?’ This is being faithful in the little, this is being reliable in the little.

Then in v. 13 Jesus gets to the heart of the matter. “13No servant can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.” If we love God, we will do what God wants us to do with the little of this world’s wealth. We will give to help those in need. But if we love our wealth, we will keep it for ourselves and we will not have friends to welcome us into the kingdom.

Second, Jesus applies the principle of little and much to –

How we serve God – Matthew 25:21, 23

The context here is the parable of the talents. Let’s remember together the meaning of this parable. Jesus is about to go away to the Father after his death and resurrection. And so Jesus leaves his kingdom work to his disciples – the church, to you and me. And to some he gives a lot of responsibility, 5 bars of silver, to some 3 bars of silver and to some only 1 – each according to our ability. And we are to fulfill our tasks.

And then Jesus returns for the final judgment. And here we have the little and much principle stated clearly, as the master says to the one who had five bars of silver and increased them, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” Matthew 25:21. And again to the one who had three talents and increased them, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” Matthew 25:23.

Like before with wealth, the “little” has to do with what we do or don’t in regard to serving God with the tasks he has given us to do. The “much” has to do with what we will be our situation in the world to come – what our levels of responsibility will be in the fullness of the kingdom. And once again, the first, what we do or don’t do with the little, determines the second – the much. Because God knows based on what we have done with what is little, how we will do with the much of what is to come in the kingdom.

The key here is, ‘Will we serve God and do what he has tasked us to do?’ If we are faithful with the small responsibilities in this life that God gives us, God will give us greater responsibilities and honor in the world to come.

But heed the note of warning with the third servant. If we are not faithful here, we will not have a place in the world to come but will go to place of weeping and gnashing of teeth – Matthew 25:30.

The principle of little and much

This principle teaches us that what we do in this life will determine what we have in the life to come. God tests us in the little things of this life, before we get the real blessings of the world to come. Because he can tell from what we do in this life, what we should have in the life to come.

If we aren’t faithful in the little things, we will not be entrusted with the greater things – the much of the world to come. So whether it is how we use our wealth in this life, or how we fulfill the tasks that God has given to us in this life, we are being tested.

And so my word of encouragement to you this morning is this be faithful in the little things of this world! Be radical in your giving – don’t let fear of being without hinder you. Serve God with abandon – don’t let the things of this world distract you from what is truly important. Do this and you will be blessed with the much of the world to come – with what is true, with what is lasting and with what will be your own – untold blessings in the kingdom of God.

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Easter so clearly proclaims the Christian message – Jesus is raised from the dead and he has provided for us a great hope of resurrection life in the world to come. And this is a time when we gather and sing and celebrate this great truth.

But the question I am asking this morning – Do you really believe in the resurrection? – has to do with whether this belief in our minds makes itself evident in our actions.

Let’s turn to-

1 Corinthians 15

In this passage Paul argues against some Christians who were saying that there is no resurrection.

  • In vs. 1-5 Paul reminds the Corinthians that the gospel he preached and that they believed is based on the resurrection – the resurrection of Jesus.
  • In vs. 12-20 Paul states that if there is no resurrection this means that Christ is not raised, and so our faith is in vain. It also means that we are still in our sins, and so there is no salvation.
  • And then in vs. 30-32 he makes the argument that I want us to look at. Let’s read these verses:

vs. 30-32 – “And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'” (NRSV)

I want to turn this passage around and make Paul’s point in reverse. Paul’ point is that if the dead are not raised, why would Christians be willing to give up their lives in this world? He references his own experience as he talks about being in constant danger and fighting with wild beasts in Ephesus. If this life is all there is they should all be out living it up, enjoying this life, because it’s all anyone has.

So he argues from their current behavior back to a belief that sustains that behavior. He’s saying, it’s our belief in the resurrection that allows us to give up our lives in this world – because there is another, better world to come.

My point moves from a belief in the resurrection to the kind of life that such a belief should produce in our actions and choices. Since we believe that there is a resurrection, we are free to give up our lives in this world. This life is not all there is and what is to come is better. So we don’t need to cling to our lives in this world.

Our belief in the resurrection and new life in the world to come gives us a whole new outlook on this life, which should reorient our everyday decisions. I call this a resurrection perspective. We are not to live for this life, but for the next.

This resurrection perspective is truly liberating

It sets us free to serve God in bold new ways. For instance, 1. We can give up pursuing our own dreams in this world. We can give up our own ambitions; all the things that we seek to find meaning and worth in life.

Maybe your dream is about having a family and enjoying life with them all your days. Or maybe it’s being with your friends and living life with them. Maybe it’s gaining more and more wealth, or making a name for yourself or finding “fulfillment” in life – making of yourself all that you can.

We can give this all up and follow God wherever that may take us. We can let God’s will for us be our dream, our ambition, our meaning – making everything else secondary or even setting them aside to do God’s will.

Paul says in Philippians 3:8 in the context of the resurrection, “I have suffered the loss of all things.” He gave up everything for Jesus.

Paul was not bound by fear of the loss of his own dreams and ambitions connected to this life, because this world is passing away and another is coming that is better than our best earthly dreams.

Belief in the resurrection set him free so that he could pursue God’s call on his life wherever that took him.

Another example of the liberating power of belief in the resurrection is that 2. We can give up being comfortable, secure, and settled in this world. We can give up having all that we want, just like we want it; living life like we always have, where we want to live.

Rather we can endure hard times and suffering in this world in obedience to God’s will. Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 talks about his many “imprisonments . . . countless beatings, and (how he was) often near death.” He says, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”

He was not bound by the fear of loss of earthly comfort, security and settledness, because his true comfort and security is waiting for him in the world to come. As he says in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.”

Belief in the resurrection set him free to obey God radically, even if it means that suffering for doing Gods’ call, will be a part of this.

3. We can literally give up our lives in this world. We can obey God even when others threaten to take away our lives for doing it.

In 2 Timothy 4:6 he says, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.” And indeed he was killed for his faith.

He was not bound by the fear of death. Because he has a life in the world to come he doesn’t’ need not cling to his earthly life.

Belief in the resurrection set him free to obey God boldly, even if that means dying for Jesus.

Now, Paul said that “he dies daily” in v. 30. What he means is that he is prepared to lose all these things each day – earthly dreams, comforts and his own life. And he can do this because there is a resurrection.

What about you?

Do you really believe in the resurrection? Does it show up in your everyday life choices?

When others look at your life, do they see you living like this world is all there is? Do they see you chasing after the good things of this life, wanting more and more, and guarding against the loss of what you already have? In other words, living like everyone else?

Or do they see you living for the world to come? Do they see that you are free to serve God boldly and sacrificially, making life decisions based on your faith in the God who raises the dead, and doing things you would never do unless there was a resurrection?

We can all say what we want this morning, as we sing and talk about the resurrection. But if it doesn’t affect how we live, it’s meaningless.

This is the challenge I leave with you – let’s live our lives like we really
do believe in the resurrection.

William Higgins

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