Matters of Faith: For Your Own Good

By Rev. J. Loren Russell

“Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Luke 16:14-15 NKJV

As Jesus was speaking to His disciples, he was overheard by the Pharisees. The Pharisees were described in the Gospel of Matthew as having four distinct characteristics by which they could be identified. enumerates their characteristics in this way;

  • 1 – positions of religious authority in the community,   
  • 2 – concern for outward recognition and honor,   
  • 3 – enthusiasm for making converts,  
  • 4 – emphasis on observing the legalistic minutia of the law.

Because they loved money, they made fun and sneered at Jesus because He taught His disciples that they could not serve two masters. His use of the word “master” indicates that they will be enslaved to one or the other. It does not matter who you are, you will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than to the other. That’s just human nature. He told them that they could not serve both God and money.

The Pharisees wanted to have things their way. They wanted to be able to serve both God and money, claiming that their religious authority, zeal for bringing converts to Judaism and observing the law of Moses to the smallest detail somehow made them immune to the lure and lust for power that came with their love of money.

Their position and their argument were important to them. They wanted to convince those around them, including Jesus, of their righteousness. Remember, they had religious authority in the land. People looked up to them. They were not like those who fell prey to the allure and the sin of loving money. But Jesus told them that God knows their heart. They could say whatever they wanted, people could believe what they were saying, and they could convince themselves that they were earnest in what they were saying. They surely were convinced that their intentions were altruistic and benevolent. But God knew what was really going on in their heart. When Jesus told them they could not serve both God and mammon, He knew their love of money would turn their focus away from God. He was trying to protect them from themselves.

A perfect example for us is the story of the fictitious King Midas. He wanted to prosper his kingdom and wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. When his food, and then his daughter turned to gold, his desired blessing became a curse. The Pharisees were blinded by their desire for outward recognition and honor. As the Pharisees overheard what Jesus told His disciples, they could have benefited as well but their concern about the things men highly esteem robbed them of the good God wanted to do for them.

Always keep in mind, everything God does, He does it with your good in mind.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting; an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx; creator/host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio, Monday’s 8:00 – 10:00 PM (626-226-1448) and author of Matters of Faith: The Book, an eBook available at

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