Sermon title:  JESUS’ ADVICE ON HOW TO USE OUR MONEY

 

Luke 16:1-15    Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, April 7, 2019

 

 

 

There are all sorts of people today

advising us on how to use our money.

 

Advertisements tell us to buy this and to buy that.

 

They show us smiling faces

of people who bought their products—

with the implication that we’ll be smiling, too,

if we buy what they’re selling.

 

It will put a smile on our face.

 

And, for those with money to spare,

the advertisements tell us

to invest it in their product.

 

Buy shares in their fund

or put the money in their bank.

 

Put your money here, put your money there.

There’s no end to the advice they keep offering to us

on how to use our money.

 

But, as Christians, we also have Jesus’ advice

on how to use our money.

 

His wisdom far exceeds that of the advertisers.

 

And Jesus really cares about us,

not about selling a product.

 

So, he tells us what our priorities should be,

and where we should put our money FIRST.

 

And where is the first place God wants us to put our money?

 

The first place God wants us to put our money is . . .

no, not the church,

but our own families.

 

In his first letter to Timothy,

the Apostle Paul made clear God’s priority

for the use of our money.

 

 

And it is not to leave our family in need,

while we donate to missions or the local church.

 

At 1st Timothy 5:8,

Paul made God’s priority clear,

when he wrote,

 

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives,

and especially for his immediate family,

he has denied the faith

and is worse than an unbeliever.”

 

I’ll read that again:

 

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives,

and especially for his immediate family,

he has denied the faith

and is worse than an unbeliever.”

 

So, people who sacrifice their family’s needs

while giving to the church or to missions,

may be well-meaning,

but they have their priorities mixed up.

 

God says we need to provide for

the needs of our immediate family first.

 

That being said—

and it’s a very important point to keep in mind

we can then go on to see

how Jesus advises us to use our money

besides caring for our family’s needs.

 

We find Jesus’ advice in Luke, Chapter 16,

where he gave the “Parable of the Unjust Steward”

in some older translations

or the “Parable of the Dishonest Manager”

in some modern translations.

 

It’s the parable we read in our Responsive Reading,

and it begins with Luke 16:1.

 

Jesus told his disciples:

“There was a rich man

whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.

 

It was common in those days

for a rich man to employ a servant

to manage his entire estate.

 

That would include collecting rent

from tenant farmers who farmed the rich man’s land,

and any other business transactions or investments

involving the rich man’s wealth.

 

The rich man would often live a life of ease,

not bothering himself with such day-to-day business.

 

It would all be in the hands of the steward or estate manager.

 

So, the rich man might not be aware of

what is happening with his money

unless someone tells him

that something is wrong.

 

And that’s what happens in this story

that Jesus is telling

to teach us a lesson.

 

The manager in the parable

was accused of wasting his [employer’s] possessions.

 

So, someone ratted him out to his boss.

 

The story continues in Verse 2,

where we’ll see what the rich man does

after hearing these accusations against his employee.

 

2 So he called him in and asked him,

 

'What is this I hear about you?

Give an account of your management,

because you cannot be manager any longer.'

 

When an employer today hears accusations against an employee,

and decides to fire the man,

there are two different approaches to firing him.

 

Sometimes the employer

will fire him on the spot,

call Security,

and have Security personnel escort him off the property—

without giving the fired employee

opportunity to do any more damage.

 

But, other times, the employer

will give the man notice

and ask him to wrap up any projects he’s been working on,

and put together a summary—perhaps in writing—

of where things stand,

so that someone else can easily take over.

 

 

I’ve seen both approaches followed

in the business world in real life.

 

But in this illustrative story that Jesus is telling,

the rich owner gives the man notice,

and tells him to “Give an account of your management

before finishing up.

 

So, the man has opportunity to go back to his desk,

and remain in the position for a few days,

to put this “account” together.

 

Verse 3 tells us,

 

3 “The manager said to himself,

'What shall I do now?

My master is taking away my job.

 

I'm not strong enough to dig,

and I'm ashamed to beg—

 

4 I know what I'll do

so that, when I lose my job here,

people will welcome me into their houses.'

 

5 “So he called in each one of his master's debtors.

 

 

He asked the first,

'How much do you owe my master?'

 

6 “'Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied.

 

The manager told him,

'Take your bill, sit down quickly,

and make it four hundred.'

 

7 “Then he asked the second,

'And how much do you owe?' 

 

'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied.

 

He told him,

'Take your bill and make it eight hundred.'

 

So, the rich employer obviously made a mistake

in not having Security escort the fired manager

right out the door.

 

By allowing him to go back to his manager’s desk

and keep managing the estate for a few days,

he gave the dishonest manager opportunity

to do even more damage

and embezzle even more money.

 

 

The fired manager isn’t putting his employer’s money

directly into his own pocket,

but he’s doing it indirectly

by giving away the employer’s money

to all the boss’s debtors.

 

For everyone who owes the boss money,

the fired manager is cancelling large portions of that debt.

 

He’s re-writing all the contracts

and all the tabs that keep track of what people owe,

so that they now owe considerably less

than they did before.

 

So, that amounts to giving gifts to all these people—

gifts not from his own pocket,

but from his employer’s pocket.

 

And those gifts earn their favor toward him.

 

Everyone whose debt he lowered

now sees him as a friend

and says, in effect, to the fired manager,

“I owe you one!” or “I owe you big time!”

 

And his plan is to get each one of them to return the favor.

 

He’s going to be out of a job

and homeless

because he will lose the apartment in his master’s house

that went with the manager’s position.

 

So, his plan is to go to these people,

one after another,

expecting they will return the favor

by putting him up as a guest in their homes.

 

A brilliant plan!

 

And all on his former master’s nickel.

 

In Verse 8, Jesus says,

 

8 “The master commended the dishonest manager

because he had acted shrewdly.

 

The master would have been outraged, of course,

that this fired employee

was stealing more from him after being fired

than he did before.

 

But the master couldn’t help but recognize

what a brilliant maneuver

the man pulled—

how shrewd he was.

 

And that’s one of the points

Jesus wanted us to get

from this story

about a man who was so clever

in using other people’s money.

 

Jesus went on to say

in the 2nd half of Verse 8,

 

For the people of this world

are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind

than are the people of the light.

 

Our Lord is telling us

that the non-believers in this world

are smarter in looking out for themselves

than we are.

 

When the fired manager saw

that he was about to lose his job and his home,

he put his master’s money to wise use for himself,

by investing it in his future housing.

 

But, how many Christians see clearly

that this world isn’t our final home

and act accordingly?

 

We may have a few months or years left in this world,

but we will soon be living for eternity

in the home Jesus has for us in heaven.

 

But how many ignore the fact

that our home in this world

will soon come to an end?

 

How many get wrapped up

in chasing after wealth in this world,

without giving thought to the afterlife?

 

The fired manager knew

he had to make preparations for his future elsewhere,

but how many Christians

act like this world is all there is?

 

Looking again at Paul’s 1st letter to Timothy,

we see that this is a problem for some Christians.

 

In 1st Timothy 6, beginning with Verse 9,

Paul wrote,

 

9 People who want to get rich

fall into temptation and a trap

and into many foolish and harmful desires

that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

 

10 For the love of money

is a root of all kinds of evil.

 

Some people, eager for money,

have wandered from the faith

and pierced themselves with many griefs.

 

Chasing after wealth

causes people to ‘wander away from the faith’

and end up hurting themselves and others.

 

The illusion of wealth

is one of the devil’s traps

to ensnare people and lead them astray.

 

But we’re all living now in the devil’s world

like the manager living in his employer’s household.

 

But the parable tells us

to use the devil’s riches

with a view to our future life in God’s heaven.

 

The world around us

is full of the devil’s propaganda

telling us that wealth and riches will make us happy,

and persuading us to pursue riches

as an end in itself.

 

But the advice Jesus gives us

is just the opposite.

 

He sums up the lesson of this parable in Verse 9, where he says,

 

9 “I tell you,

use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves,

so that when it is gone,

you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

 

Our time in Satan’s world,

working like wage-slaves to earn money—

that time is coming to an end.

 

And we will soon be moving into our eternal dwellings in heaven.

 

So, why not take some of Satan’s money,

and use that worldly wealth

for heaven’s benefit?

 

If we’re shrewd, like the manager in the parable,

we’ll realize that our future is with God and Christ in heaven.

 

So, we’ll give what we can

of this world’s money

to God and Christ.

 

That means giving it

to feed the poor,

to support Gospel outreach,

to support the local church,

and in other ways

to invest in God’s heavenly kingdom

where we are going to live

after this life is over.

 

Like the rich man in the parable,

Satan doesn’t want us to take his worldly wealth

and give it away to God and Christ.

 

But, if we’re shrewd, we’ll do that.

 

God is watching us,

to see what we do with our money in this world,

as a measure of what we will do

with the treasure in heaven that he plans to give us.

 

We don’t have much now—

especially compared with the treasure he will give us—

but what we do with the little bit we have now

is an indicator of how we will handle more.

 

Jesus continues in Verse 10 to say,

 

10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little

can also be trusted with much,

and whoever is dishonest with very little

will also be dishonest with much.

 

11 So if you have not been trustworthy

in handling worldly wealth,

who will trust you with true riches?

 

We can’t even imagine

what those “true riches” in heaven

will consist of.

 

But it won’t be like the wealth of this world

that passes through our hands so quickly.

 

Our wealth here slips through our fingers,

and we can’t take it with us when we die.

 

But those treasures in heaven will be permanently ours.

 

Jesus goes on to say,

 

12 “And if you have not been trustworthy

with someone else's property,

who will give you property of your own?

 

We can’t imagine what they are,

but those treasures in heaven will be true riches”—

to use Jesus’ words,

and they will be ‘property of our own.’

 

But, while we are still here on earth,

we can make our money serve us

and we can make our money serve God’s kingdom.

 

Money becomes a danger and a snare

when we serve it, instead of using it to serve us.

 

Jesus warns us against that in Verse 13, where he says,

 

13 "No servant can serve two masters.

 

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 both God and Money."

 

We appreciate receiving this advice from our Lord Jesus.

 

But not everyone in his audience was happy with what Jesus said.

 

The account goes on to tell us,

 

14 The Pharisees, who loved money,

heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.

 

15 He said to them,

 

"You are the ones who justify yourselves

in the eyes of men,

but God knows your hearts.

 

What is highly valued among men

is detestable in God's sight.”

 

Yes, God looks at things differently

than the way men look at things.

 

What is highly valued among men

is detestable in God's sight.”

 

So, Jesus is calling on us

to radically change our values—

to view things differently

from our neighbors in this world who don’t know God.

 

Pursuing riches, to get rich, is highly valued among men

but is detestable in God’s sight.

 

Driving a quarter-million dollar Lamborghini

—the envy of our neighbors—

is highly valued among men,

but is detestable in God’s sight.

 

Buying a palatial showpiece home, like the rich and famous,

is highly valued among men,

but is detestable in God’s sight.

 

He is calling on us to think differently

about money and property

and to put God’s interests first.

 

And, if we do that,

we will actually be serving our own best interests

in the long run

like the manager in Jesus’ parable.