Opening Thoughts: I honestly cannot tell you how many times I have heard Sunday talks on money, nor how many times it has been followed directly with a call to give. I think we have all been there, maybe some of you have even preached these messages with hopes that it would encourage more people to give. Perhaps some of you after hearing messages or a series of messages on this topic only caused you to clench your fist tighter around your hard earned cash. Whatever the case may be, if the heart of the issue is not dealt with, those listening and those preaching will both lose.
The hope behind this post is not to show anyone up and not to point fingers at certain churches or people, but to speak to you from a heart of my own conviction, my own lack of giving and my own foolish stewardship many times. The passage we are about to look at is where Jesus is preaching about a foolish steward, an unhappy manager, a lost position and wise preparation for the future. Let’s read.
Luke 16:1-13 ESV
He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. “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 true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
The responsibility of taking care of someone else’s possessions is not to be taken lightly. Imagine if you hired someone to take care of your estate, their job was to live in your home, manage your things and to increase your wealth. However, after several years you noticed that instead of increasing some of your possessions had vanished, your money was actually depleting and your debts had gone on unpaid. You then received reports that the person you had placed in such a great position was wasting your things, using them as their own, not collecting your money owed to you and more. Imagine how disheartening that would be? This steward had been doing just that. A steward in those days basically acted as if they were the one who owned the estate, they made all the decisions because they had been entrusted to do that. Did that make them the owner of anything? No, it simply meant they had the power to decide where things would be spent, how the money would be invested and so forth. This manager failed to be faithful with what he had been given authority over and he had been wasteful.
Guilty As Charged:
When someone has been “caught red handed”, as the saying goes, they usually do not try and defend themselves simply because they have been exposed and it’s too late anyway, the cat’s out of the bag. We know that this manager was guilty because once the owner confronted him and issued him a “pink slip” he did nothing to defend himself, after all what could he do? He had wasted what hadn’t belonged to him.
What the manager did next showed amazing thought and heart felt preparation. In the moments that followed, and while he still held the position of manger, he quickly called in all the debts for his master. One of them he forgave 50% and the other 20%. In those days debts where quite hard to collect, so for the manager to collect so quickly shows he had some quick forethought, one was to free up some cash for his master and another was to make friends rather quickly. As you recall in our text he said, ” I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses”, when he forgave portions of these debts he made friends with these debtors, now upon his dismissal he had hope that he would be received into their homes and perhaps even manage their affairs.
Jesus Makes the Comparison:
In the story the master praises the manager’s shrewdness for looking out for his own future. Knowing that he would soon lose his position, that word would get out about his unfaithfulness and that he would never find work in high position again he acted quickly. In fact if you read the text the manager speaks of digging ditches and begging as his two options. In other words he would be a bum, destitute and ruined.
Jesus says that this worldly man knew he was about to be ruined and literally cast out into the darkness, so he used the current situation to prepare for the safety of his future. If men of the world would go to such great lengths to make preparations for their future earthly lives, how much more should believers put the same kind of preparation into their eternal future. This does not include building castles here, it doesn’t include chasing rainbows, it doesn’t include desiring to be rich, as 1 Timothy 6:9 uses strong language against such ambitions, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
What it does include is taking care of what God has given us management over. Next time you get a pay check and think it’s yours, think again, it’s God’s. In fact it’s all God’s, the car you drive, the house you live in, the clothes you wear and money you spend, all of it is God’s and you are his manager.
In this text Jesus urges us to use our earthly money to make friends (in a spiritual sense), give to the poor, take care of those in need, feed, clothe and care for the widow and the orphan in distress, and help our brothers and sisters who are struggling. These are all the things that God has given us these resources for. In doing these things we are making friends in eternity..
“And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9 ESV)
I know it’s time for me, and maybe it’s time for you as well, to start seeing the things we own and the money we make in their true light, as the things God owns and the money that belongs to Him. So next time we look at God’s bank-statement and see how much God has in his account that we manage let’s think, “What does He want me to do with this money? How does He want me to spend it? and, How will my management of these funds affect my eternity?”
I don’t know about you but I think I’m going to start to view
MY, I mean GOD’s, money differently from now on. So to that I say, “God, what do you want me to do with your next paycheck?”
Preparing The Way
Grace & Peace, Shane Martin