READ: Proverbs 28, Luke 16, Revelation 8

ABOMINABLE PRAYERS

Jesus demands accountability for how we steward the resources He has given us. Jesus has given us family, friends, time, and money, and He insists that we use these resources well, that we are shrewd with what He has given us (Luke 16:8). Family and friends are not resources in the sense of material to be consumed, but in the sense of God’s supply to us for life and ministry. If we do not steward these gifts well, we will consume and abuse them. Consumable God-given resources are time and money. Only money is renewable; thus time is most precious. Luke tells us, however, that both time and money are limited. Luke 16:9 refers to resources and is most properly translated “when they fail,” which allows the paraphrase: Time and money are going to run out, so while you have them, use them towards everlasting ends. Mammon is usually thought of in terms of finances, but it takes time to make money and because time is not renewable, it is more precious. Thus he who is faithful in the little moments of time will be faithful with his life. Great lives are but the connection of innumerable faithfully used moments.

Luke points out that Pharisees are lovers of money. They loved their luxuries, and they loved spending time as it pleased them. We must never forget that the closest current equivalent to a Pharisee is a missionary and a minister. We tend to castigate Pharisees as the worst example of a hypocrite without acknowledging we are what we despise. Because the Pharisees were brilliantly ignorant, they knew all about God and the Scripture but didn’t really understand Him. If they did understand Him, they lied to themselves long enough that their selfish and carnal interpretation of His laws no longer bothered them. Again, this is the common error of the missionary. We can be so proud of working for God that we no longer represent Him. We can become so adept at doing the right things for the wrong reasons that we lose the capacity to see how disgusting and abominable our actions are to the one we allegedly serve. We can esteem things that are abominable before God (v. 15).

The writer of Proverbs declares: “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Prov. 28:9). This turning from hearing is not the work of the unconverted; it is more often the practice of the Christian. First, to turn away from hearing (and obeying) implies that you once were attentive and obedient. Second, the unconverted usually have no time for prayer. We can keep praying long after we have stopped obeying, and when that is our practice, God thinks those prayers to be abominable. We consistently drift towards pride in our own righteousness and constantly need to be reminded that God thinks our good works, thoughts, and nature to be abominable.
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