Lost in Translation: Dirty Money

Checking translated Scripture is full of surprises. You can be sailing along, verse after verse, with only short pauses to clarify the meaning. Then all of a sudden you run into a concept that takes the better part of an hour to get right. That happened in Luke 16:9. Jesus’ parable in the preceding verses may be his most difficult to understand, and I will not attempt to discuss it now, but here is what tripped up the translators:

And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings. (Luke 16:9, NASB)

The Nuasué and Numala translation teams, which are two distinct languages among the 270 languages spoken in Cameroon,  translated most of the verse correctly but not the phrase underlined above. It came out reading something like “your money of deceit of this world.” The problem: their translations sounded like Jesus wanted his followers either to earn money by deceit or to use it in deceitful ways.

“Put your hand in your pocket and pull out a piece of money,” I suggested. We do not know who has handled that money or how it has been used—possibly even to pay for some evil deed. However, we came by the money honestly and use it for good purposes even though, as one French translation puts it, the money is “stained by the unrighteousness of the world.”

The translators understood the intent but still could not come up with a translation that would not be interpreted as an endorsement of deceitful dealings. One person suggested just saying “the money of this world,” since readers of the Bible usually recognize “this world” as referring to a system in rebellion against God. But Jesus deliberately used the word “unrighteous” to describe the money, so we assume that it is important for understanding his meaning. This seems to be one of the “worst case scenarios” Jesus often used to make a point. We recently saw one of these in Luke 11:13: “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father…” Similarly, in Luke 16:9, Jesus shows that the sin-stained money of this world can be used for godly purposes.

Now the translators were convinced that “unrighteous” needed to stay.  But how? After much discussion, they decided in their languages “soiled money,” if associated with “this world,” would communicate the idea.  So they translated it as “your soiled money of this world.” It took awhile to get there, but in the end, we all gained a better understanding of one of Jesus’ harder sayings.

Click here to find out more about Wycliffe Bible Translators

15 Promises that Will Change Your Life

By Rich Leatherberry, Associate Pastor for Mission

I have learned that the more I count on God daily in the small things, the more I will be able to count on God for the big things.  For the way we live our lives today, is the way we will live them every day.

So here are 15 Promises from God to you

Promise #1: “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” –Zeph 3:17

Promise #2: “He is able to do immeasurably more than you ask or imagine according to His power that is already at work within you.” –Ephesians 3:20

Promise #3: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from you, it is the gift of God.” –Ephesians  2:8

Promise #4: “You will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is steadfast, because they trust in you.” –Isaiah 26:3

Promise #5: “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” —2 Timothy 4:7-8

Promise #6: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” –Isaiah 43:1-2

Promise #7: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.  That person will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” –Jeremiah 17:7-8

Promise #8: “O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless His holy name!  O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!  He forgives your sins – every one.  He heals your diseases – every one.  He redeems you from hell – saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy – a paradise crown.  He wraps you in goodness – beauty eternal. He renews your youth – you’re always young in his presence.” –Psalm 103:1-5

Promise #9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us of all unrighteousness.” –1 John 1:9

Promise #10: “Greater is He who is in you than the one who is in the world.” –1John 4:4

Promise #11: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” –Proverbs 3:5-6

Promise #12: “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” –Philippians 4:13

Promise #13: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” –Psalms 147:3

Promise #14: “God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 4:19

Promise #15:  “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” –Romans 8:38-39

Where has God shown you His faithfulness through His promises? What promise do you need to hold onto the most?

15 “I Am” Statements that Will Change Your Life

By Rich Leatherberry, Associate Pastor for Mission

  1. I am saved and nothing can separate me from the love of God. (Jn 10:29; Rom 8:38-39)
  2. I am the salt of the earth. (Matt. 5:13)
  3. I am the light of the world. (Matt. 5:14)
  4. I am a child of God. (John 1:12)
  5. I am Jesus’ friend. (John 15:15)
  6. I am called to love and make a difference in the lives of others. (Jn 13:34-35; Ja 2:14-17)
  7. I am chosen and sent to help others know Jesus and His love. (Jn 15:16; Mtt 28:18-21)
  8. I am a daughter/son of God; God is spiritually my Father. (Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 3:26, 4:6)
  9. I am a joint heir with Jesus and I share His inheritance with Him. (Rom. 8:17)
  10. I am a temple and the Holy Spirit makes His home in me. (1 Cor. 6:19)
  11. I am part of Jesus’ body here on earth. (1 Cor. 12:27;)
  12. I am free. (Gal 5:1)
  13. I am a new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17)
  14. I am an ambassador of Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:18-20)
  15. I am God’s workmanship, His masterpiece, created in Jesus to do His work. (Eph. 2:10)

Remind yourself of who you are and whose you, every day for the next 30 days, and see what happens.

What “I Am” statement means the most to you?  Is there an “I Am” statement in Scripture you want to tell us about that isn’t posted here?

Next week I’ll post 15 promises that Will Change Your Life. Stay tuned!

Photo credit: Lightstock.com