It is useful to have rules of thumb for many things. They help us to make decisions about matters when there is no other guidance. A rule of thumb according to Wikipedia can be described as, “An easily learned and easily applied procedure for approximately calculating or recalling some value, or for making some determination.” Three Bible has a number of rules of thumb that we can use to make determinations about situations that are useful in assessing whether a matter is of the truth or error. This section of scripture shows one such rule of thumb that is very useful.
Seeing as God Sees
The rule of thumb in this section helps us to assess the things of the world and weigh them against how God might see such things. It helps us to know the difference between what is good and evil, or what is right and wrong.
In this section of scripture Jesus upbraids the Pharisees for being lovers of money as they scoffed at Jesus when he said, “You cannot serve God and mammon (money).” He told them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Verse 15)
The Pharisees did not believe that by seeking money they were not serving God. But Jesus showed them that while seeking money and wealth they were serving their own appetites and not the will of God.
It is the same for Christians today. If you are seeking wealth, possessions and money, as is taught in some church doctrines today, you are not serving God. You are serving yourself by seeking the things of this world, for money and wealth are not of God, they are of the world.
God is not interested in money, he wants you. He will provide what you need but there is no promise of wealth in this world. There is the promise of great spiritual wealth for those who seek God above all other things, but physical wealth was never a promise because the ministry of the New Covenant is not about money or wealth in this age. Those who teach that the measure of your Christianity and the blessings of the Lord are about how much money you have are wrong.
The Rule of Thumb
Which brings me to the rule of thumb in this section of scripture. At the end of the scripture Jesus said, “…for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Jesus and God see things differently to the way man sees things. That is evident from these few words.
Man exalts in wealth, riches and the desire for these things. But Jesus says that the pursuit of these things will get in the way of your salvation. He says, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:23) And this is only one way that Jesus and God see things differently from man.
The rule of thumb here is that we should look very carefully at whatever is exalted among men and at anything that is held up as being something desirable by mankind, because it is highly likely that those things may actually be an abomination before God.
Let me give an example. Anyone who has any interest in investing or has spoken to investment advisers or received investment information over the internet will be familiar with one of the key concepts for increasing your wealth; the use of compounding interest. This concept is highly rated and exalted amongst men as a mechanism for achieving wealth from modest means.
Now we have already seen what Jesus thought about money, riches and wealth, but the concept of compounding interest that is so highly regarded among men is an abomination to the Lord. It was so offensive to God that there are laws given by Moses prohibiting it. These are the laws of usury, which is lending at interest. You can check this in Leviticus 25:35-38 and Deuteronomy 23:19-20. Ezekiel denounces the man who takes interest as evil in Ezekiel 18, Solomon states the man who, “…augments his wealth by interest and increase gathers it for him who is kind to the poor.” (Proverbs 28:8) That is, he will not see the benefit of the compound interest but it will go to another, the one who stands right before God. And finally David asks the question, “O Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tent? Who shall dwell on thy holy hill?” And amongst the answers are, “He who walks blamelessly and does what is right,” and he “…who does not put out his money at interest.” (Psalm 15)
This practice which is universally exalted by man in the world is universally condemned by God. And it is just one example of things exalted by man that are an abomination to God.
How to Use the Rule of Thumb
Now that you have this rule of thumb, “…for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God,” you can begin to see the world differently. Look at the things being promoted by the world as good and test it against the word of God. Look at the things held in high regard by man and see whether they are aligned with the word of God. What does the Bible say about the things held in high esteem by man?
Also look at the issues and matters of concern that are being promoted by various groups and test them to see whether they are good in the sight of God also. Some of the things being promoted as civil liberties, debates on raising children, discussions over marriage rights, political dissensions, religious freedoms, freedom of the press, advertising license, what is considered acceptable because it is art and so on. All these things and many more are being pushed and are “exalted among men,” but need to be considered in the light of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed many of the things that are being promoted today have no basis in scripture and often are opposed by scripture.
So consider carefully what you accept and what to reject. Just because men think something is good does not make it so. Just because something has gained acceptance by society does not make it good, right or true. Be careful not to take on a practice that is in opposition to the word of God.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Sanja Gjenero)