TODAY’S READING: LUKE 16-18
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the riches?” – Luke 16:10-11
I have heard this scripture used to say that if you are faithful with a little money then God will trust you be faithful with a lot of money. Or, substitute something else for money. So, we tend to think of “very little” and “much” in this scripture in terms of amounts of the same type of thing.
But, what if “very little” and “much” are talking about two different things and not less and more of the same thing?
The Greek word for very little is elachistos. It means insignificant, trivial, least, short.
The Greek word for much is polys. It means great, many, much.
Jesus says if you are faithful with very little then you will be faithful with much. Conversely, if you are unfaithful with very little then you be unfaithful with much. But, Jesus’ question reveals that he is talking about not less and then of the same thing but two different things.
For, he asks, “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” Unrighteous wealth is a completely different thing than true riches.
What Jesus is really saying is that if you are faithful with unrighteous wealth then you will be faithful with true riches. But, if you are unfaithful with unrighteous wealth then you will be unfaithful with true riches.
Going back to the Greek words very little and much, Jesus is saying that if you are faithful with what is insignificant or trivial then you will be faithful with what is great and vice versa. How you manage trivial and insignificant things shows how you will manage great things.
Therefore, if you are not faithful with unrighteous wealth, money, which is an insignificant, trivial and very little thing, then who will entrust to you true riches, which are the great thing?
Interestingly, Jesus did not ask, “Who will entrust to you the true riches?”
In the Greek, he actually asked, “Who will entrust to you the true?”
The word riches was likely added because the Greek word for true, alethinos, is an adjective. So, the thought was alethinos as an adjective must be modifying something. And, since Jesus just mentioned unrighteous wealth then the translators added the noun riches for alethinos to modify.
There’s probably not anything wrong with that. I’m not a Greek scholar to argue with it anyway. But, what if we just took the question “Who will entrust to you the true?” as Jesus said it?
The true what?
Alethinos is used 28 times in the New Testament. Almost every single time it refers to Jesus or God.
Jesus is the true light. (John 1:9)
Jesus is the true bread from heaven. (John 6:32)
The one, God, who sent Jesus is true. (John 7:28)
Jesus is the true vine. (John 15:1)
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
The Thessalonians turn to God from idols (insignificant and trivial things) to serve the living and true God. (1 Thessalonians 1:9)
Jesus is a minister in the true tent or tabernacle that the Lord made, which is his body. (Hebrews 8:2, John 1:14)
Jesus is the true light already shining. (1 John 2:8)
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
Jesus is the true one. (Revelation 3:7)
Jesus is the amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. (Revelation 3:14)
The sovereign Lord is holy and true. (Revelation 6:10)
What is true?
Rather, who is true?
If you are unfaithful with unrighteous money, that whis is trivial and insignificant, then who will entrust to you what, or who, is true, that is God and Jesus?
If you are not faithful in money, then you are actually serving money. For, if you are not faithful in money, then you are not above it and exercising control over it. You are not using money. Instead, you are under money and a slave to it. Money is using you. And, if you are unfaithful with money, under it, enslaved to it, then you cannot serve God.
Therefore, in Luke 16:13, Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money.” And, here again we see that Jesus is talking about two different things. The unrighteous wealth is money, which is “very little,” insignificant, and trivial. The true is God, he who is great.
Also, it is interesting to know that alethinos (and aletheia, which is the Greek noun meaning truth) are derived from the noun lanthano. Lanthano means to go unnoticed, to be unknown, or be forgotten. In Greek, the prefix “a” means not. So aletheia, the truth, and alethinos, that which is true is that which is not hidden, the uncovered, the unveiled.
Jesus is the truth because he unveiled God. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). And, he is the exact imprint of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3)
Where and how did Jesus unveil God?
On the cross.
Jesus died instead of killing. Then he forgave those who killed him. He showed the ultimate mercy.
And, it was after Jesus pronounced forgiveness that “the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” (Luke 23:45) The curtain, the veil, of the temple was what separated the holy place from the most holy place. The veil symbolizes that which kept God hidden from us. So, when Jesus was crucified and pronounced forgiveness he unveiled God. That is, Jesus showed the truth of God is. He dies instead of kills. God forgives. He is merciful.
This is the gospel. This is the truth. Jesus suffered. He was rejected. Then crucified. But, he rose three days later and spoke peace, not vengeance, continually.
If you are not faithful in the very little, the insignificant and trivial, money, then you cannot be trusted to be faithful in the great, the true, God, the truth, the gospel. Just read 1 Timothy 6:3-10.
However, if you are faithful in the very little, the insignificant and trivial, money, then you can be trusted to be faithful, not with more money, but in the great, the true, God, the truth, the gospel, the revelation that God forgives and is merciful.