By Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv

Luke 16:14-17 (NKJV)
“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. ‘The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it…”

Because they loved money, the Pharisees and the Sadducees who were the religious leaders of the day, deemed wealth as a sign of God’s favor. When they heard Jesus say, “you cannot serve God and mammon,” they “turned up their noses” at Him. In other words, they ridiculed Him. But the Lord is not interested in how many material possessions we have. Earthly accomplishments mean nothing to God. Not money, not power, not position. They were motivated by their ability to acquire wealth, status, and power. He knows our hearts. He knows our motives.

Those religious leaders idolized money and their status as legalists of the law of Moses. But Jesus tells them that the law and the prophets were to be followed until John the Baptist came on the scene. John the Baptist preached that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and stressed the need for the repentance of sin. He laid the foundation and announced that the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, had arrived. Now, everyone has a chance to be in relationship with the Lord. It was the passionate preaching of John the Baptist, and the fervent declaration of the Gospel today that is compelling people to press their way towards God’s Kingdom.

God loans everything to us. He loans us material things and gives us the opportunity to manage His creation. Our management skills are being evaluated to see if we are worthy of greater responsibilities. How well we manage material things determine the quantity of the spiritual things He will entrust us to oversee if our motivation is to advance the Kingdom of God. A major measure of that motivation is the sharing of the Gospel itself.

Pressing toward the Kingdom is accomplished through war-like prayer and a surrendered life. Self-interest, like those exhibited by the religious leaders in the text, must be abandoned, while a radically enthusiastic and committed desire to share the saving grace of the Gospel is developed.

The ‘invitation’ to surrender your life has been extended to everyone, but the ‘choice’ to receive it is ours. Whosoever is pressing toward the Kingdom of God has a genuine desire to live for God. They are willing to surrender their selfish ambitions for material wealth, status, and power, then personify, boldly declare, and live for Christ so that men, women, boys, and girls see their commitment to the Kingdom and want to enter themselves. I encourage everyone, individually and collectively, to press toward the Kingdom.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, President/CEO of J Loren R Consulting, LLC, providing Church Financial & Strategic Consulting, and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Facebook LIVE, Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Be sure to Friend “Matters of Faith” on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Email us at Order your copy of Matters of Faith: The Book at

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