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Sunday, September 26, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus on Money"

“Jesus on Money”  
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
September 26, 2010
Luke 16:1-13


We’ve just finished 3 weeks in Luke chapter 15 where we found out how Jesus feels about the lost.  Jesus loves lost people with a powerful, passionate love!  And He wants us to love lost people in the same way!

Now in chapter 16, Jesus is going to start talking about money.
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We’re going to call this message, “Jesus on Money.”  Jesus on the subject of money.  But don’t forget what we’ve been learning about Jesus and the lost in chapter 15, because that’s going to figure into our understanding of this chapter, as well.

So, let this little green piggy bank also remind you of the lost son repentantly coming to his senses in the pig-pen of chapter 15, as we listen now to Jesus teaching us about what to do with money.

Jesus taught a lot about money.  Last Summer, we had an eight week sermon series that we called “In God What We Trust: What the Bible Says About Money.”  And we could go into a lot more detail than that, couldn’t we?!

This Spring, we had a message called, “Jesus and Our Stuff,” where the Lord taught us to be neither greedy nor worried about money and possessions.

Before this “Certain of Jesus” sermon series on Luke is done, we’re going to hear a lot more about money from the mouth of our Lord.

It’s an important topic. 

Today, we’re going to get three main applications from Jesus on money:

#1.  Be Shrewd.
#2.  Be Trustworthy.
#3.  Be Loyal.

The Lord Jesus was a master teacher.  He knew just how to get our attention.

In chapter 16, Jesus tells a startling story to capture our attention, surprise us with a twist and then drive home His point to our hearts.

It’s the story of the Shrewd Manager.  Or the Dishonest Steward.

It’s about a guy who looks ahead and then pulls a fast one.

Let’s look at it together.  Chapter 16, verse 1.

“Jesus told his disciples: ‘There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.  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.'” Now, stop there for a second so that we can get this story straight.

So far, there are two characters in this story that Jesus is telling.

A rich man and his employee, a manager.  That is, a man who manages (stewards) the financial dealings of the rich man.

The manager worked for the rich man managing his business.

But, the rich man has found out that the manager was “wasting his possessions.”  He was no good.

And so, in good Donald Trump fashion, he says, “You’re Fired!”

“What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.”

Clean out your desk.  Bring me an account of all of the financial records.  I’m going to do an audit, and you’re fired.

Now, getting fired has a wonderful way of focusing someone’s attention on the future.  (To say the least!)

All of a sudden, this guy has to do some quick thinking about his future.  V.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–I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.'”

And he hatches a plan.  V.5

“‘So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'  'Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied. ‘The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.' [You can just imagine the look on that debtor’s face!]  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.'”

And I think that we’re supposed to assume that this was the pattern that he took with all of the “accounts receivable.”

You owe how much?  Well, let’s make it this amount...

Now, if you’re following the story, you can just imagine how the rich man is going to react to that!  V.8

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.”

Huh?

Did I miss something?

Didn’t the master just get cheated out of a lot of revenue?

And he commends the “dishonest manager?”

This one is a puzzler!

Well, there are two main ways to interpret verse 8. One possible and another, I think, a little more probable. But both of them end up with the same application.

Be shrewd.

Let me share with you the possible interpretation of verse 8 that solves a little of the strangeness of the master’s reaction.

It’s this.  According to Jewish history, it was not unusual for a business manager like this one to have a good sized mark-up as his cut on a debt.

So, it’s possible that the steward, the money manager was lowering all of the debts by the amount of his own commission.

You see?

Before he had to turn in the books, he ran around town and slashed the amount owed with all of the accounts and that did two things.

One, it made all of the accounts happier with the rich master.  Because they didn’t owe so much.  And he was still in charge, so he could do that.  It was barely legal.

And Two, it made all of the debtors happier with the manager.  Because he had come through for them.

Very Sharp!
Strategic!
...Shrewd.

In this interpretation, the manager is using his own money to make friends and influence people.

I think that’s possible.  And it would make sense of why the owner commends him.

But Jesus doesn’t say all of that about commissions, and so forth.  So that might not be the way it worked.

I think it’s more probable, that this man was barely legally or illegally using the master’s money to make friends and influence people.

Jesus still calls him in verse 8, “the dishonest manager.”

He was strategically using the last of his authority to mark down debts so that those debtors would be friendly towards him.  Give him a job or at least a meal here and there.  It was a vicious way of networking!

I think that’s more likely.

So, why did Jesus’ fictitious rich master commend the dishonest manager?

Well, just because of what it says in v.8, “because he had acted shrewdly.”

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.”

It doesn’t say that the master liked it!

It doesn’t say that the master enjoyed having his revenues reduced!

It just says that he recognized shrewdness when he saw it.

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.”

“Well, you pulled a fast one on me.  But I’ll bet it works!  And you’re still fired!”

I think that’s more probable.

But either way, the point that Jesus is making is that we should be shrewd with money.  V.8 again.

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For [Jesus says,] the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.”

I love that way of talking about us:  “The people of the light.”  That should be us.

And the people of the light should be shrewd with money.

But often, the people of the world are more shrewd than us.

#1. BE SHREWD.  USE MONEY STRATEGICALLY FOR THE KINGDOM.

Jesus has captured our attention with this story and it’s surprise ending. Now He drives His point home. V.9

“I tell you, use worldly wealth [KJV “the mammon of unrighteousness”] to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

Be shrewd.

Now, do you think that v.9 means that we can buy our way into heaven?

I seriously doubt it.

That would be the opposite of what we’ve learned the last few weeks in chapter 15.

Heaven comes not by earning it or buying it (like the Older Brother might have thought) but by GRACE and GRACE ALONE.

You can’t buy your way in.

I think what it means is that we should use money strategically for the kingdom to reach the lost so that when we get to heaven, we have friends there that our generosity helped to reach with the gospel.

Let me say that again.

I think that v.9 is teaching that we should use money strategically (shrewdly) for the kingdom (eternal investments) to reach the lost so that when we get to heaven, we have friends there that our generosity helped to reach with the gospel.

You know that song, “Thank You, For Giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed?”  That’s what I think he’s talking about here.

He’s talking about the greetings we’ll get in the New Heavens and the New Earth when we meet people that are connected to those folks across the back of our auditorium.

When we meet people that Tim McIntosh led to the Lord.  And they say, “Thank you for giving to the McIntosh family.  That was strategic!  I’m here in now and we can have this fellowship in this eternal dwelling, because you gave!”

When we meet people that Henoc Lucien led to the Lord.  And they say, “Come in here and sit down.  Thank you for giving to the Lord through Henoc.  That was a shrewd use of your hard earned cash!  I’m here now and we can have this fellowship in this eternal dwelling because you gave!”

I think that’s what it’s talking about.

It’s actually talking about generosity.

Strategic generosity.

The kind that lasts forever.

The dishonest manager was thinking about the long haul.  He was thinking about the future.  And he used his money to profit the future, not just the present.

And Jesus says that the people of the light, you and I, need to think about the longest haul, the eternal rewards that come from strategic investments in eternity.

Won’t it be great to sit down with someone, maybe here today, in the New Earth who says, “Thank you for giving to Lanse Free Church because I was touched by the ministry there with the gospel, and that’s why I’m here.  That was a shewd use of your money.  I’m here now and we can have this fellowship in this eternal dwelling because you gave!”

“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone [and it will be gone!  Remember that.  The money will eventually run out!  When it is gone], you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

Be shrewd.

#2. BE TRUSTWORTHY.  USE MONEY FAITHFULLY ON BEHALF OF THE KING.

Now, just in case anyone thought that Jesus was encouraging dishonesty with worldly wealth, He makes it clear in verses 10 through 12 that the people of the light are supposed to be very trustworthy with the money in our care.  V.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.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?”

Be Trustworthy.

We’re not supposed to be like the dishonest manager in anyway except one: shrewdness, strategic forward thinking.  That’s it.

In every other way, we’re not supposed to be like him.  We’re supposed to be honest with money and trustworthy.

Here’s why.  All of it belongs to King Jesus.

We learned about this last Summer.  Jesus owns it all.

God owns it all. We are just stewards. 

The money in our pockets is His.
The money in our banks is His.
The money in our retirement accounts is His.

It all belongs to the King, and while it’s in our care, we are supposed to manage it faithfully.

Now, that’s hard to do.  It’s hard not to think of my money as mine.

But we have to get that perspective or our lives will be way out of balance.

We are just stewards.

But, we are stewards who can expect a reward for faithfulness.

Did you catch that in verses 10-12? Let’s read them again.

“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.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? [True riches?  A riches that are more true than all of the gold and silver and dollars and cents in this world?]  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?”

He’s talking about reward.  He’s saying it negatively, that if we aren’t trustworthy, then we won’t be trusted with more.

But the flip-side is true, as well, isn’t it?

If we ARE trustworthy with some, then we will be trusted with more, and not just with worldly wealth–with true riches!

Whatever that means!

I’m not sure what the rewards of heaven will be like, but Jesus assures us that they are worth it!

Let’s be trustworthy.  Right now, use money faithfully on behalf of the King.

What changes do you and I have to make to make that a reality?

It’s all his.  We need to be trustworthy stewards.

Here’s why.  Because WE belong to the King.

#3. BE LOYAL.  USE MONEY.  DON’T LET IT USE YOU!  SERVE THE KING.  V.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 learned about this last Summer, too.

There is a law in the universe that you cannot serve both God and Money. 

You cannot serve both God and the god of money (Mammon).
               
You have to choose.

You can only be loyal to one.

We all know that money can become an idol.

That we are all prone to start serving it, instead of having it serve us.

When we get greedy.
When we get the wantsies.
When we get on the career track that makes earning more and more the be all and end all of our existence.

Money is good.  But all good things can become evil if we begin to serve them.

And the best way to fight this tendency is to be strategically generous.

To give more than we think we can.

To spend our cash on things that will last.

How is God working in your heart about your money right now?

Has the Holy Spirit been trying to tug at your purse strings to loosen them for kingdom purposes?

There is great reward for those who are found both shrewd and trustworthy because it shows where their true loyalties lie. [Bub’s testimony.]

“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.”

Which one are you serving?

We have all been disloyal in this way.

We have all sinned and selfishly hoarded money and begun to serve it at one point or another.

But Jesus died to free us from that slavery.

He died to free us from all sin–including greed.

Jesus died to pay the penalty for our disloyalty and to bring us to God.

To give us the power to be loyal through faith in Him and His precious promises.

To serve the King and to use money for His kingdom alone.

Trust Him and step out in faith being both shrewd and faithful and loyal.


Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom
Jesus and the Lost: Part Two
Jesus and the Lost: Part Three

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