“Great Issues Of Life” Series #2
TEXT: Heb. 13:5-6; Luke 16:1-15
INTRO: What percentage of our lives is touched by money? What areas of our lives are impacted by money? Really, is there anything in our lives that is not somehow affected by money? When you understand this truth you will realize why Jesus spoke so much about money, its power, its usefulness, and its dangers.
Jesus actually spoke more than twice as much about money than He did the subjects of Heaven and Hell combined!!
Look at all the areas of our lives touched by money:
d. Vehicles – travel
e. To some extent, even our friends ... we tend to be around the people who are in the same social-economic level as us!
f. Education level
g. Our hobbies
h. Our vacations ... or lack of them!
i. The size of our families
j. The way we celebrate just about anything!
k. The type of jobs we look for
l. Community involvement
m. Our exercise ... recreational activities
n. Our politics
o. Our utilities
p. Our church ... and religion in general!
PROP. SENT: Money impacts every area of our life ... even our spiritual life, therefore, God calls us to be good stewards of everything material we receive in life ... proper use of "things" can make or break our spiritual life!
I. ACCOUNTABILITY REAL! Luke 16:1-2
A. Cavalier! Luke 16:1
1. The role of a manager is introduced:
a. He owned nothing ... but managed everything owned by someone else!
b. Through management he was allowed to earn for himself some profits.
c. He could waste the profits or invest them...
2. This manager had taken the attitude of "I'll enjoy life now and worry about tomorrow sometime tomorrow!"
a. He had used up his profits about as fast as he had gained them, the story indicates clearly that he had no reserves personally himself … obvious from the fact that he does not pay back what he had misused; instead he restructures the master’s loans so that he as the manager no longer receives any interest. If he had money he could have paid off the master otherwise.
b. He basically was living to have a good time at the moment.
c. He was about to be fired because of his cavalier lifestyle ... why?
(1. Because others might not be as trusting with the master's resources having a manager with these qualities!
(2. It could hurt the owner’s business with a manager who had this attitude!
3. Thus he was called to account for his actions ... something all of us will be called to at some point!
a. After all ... we all are only managers ... we really own nothing, only God owns everything!
b. While we are allowed to profit from the use of God's things we still must realize we will be accountable for how we use those things!
c. Short-term use of things are not wise ... a longer plan should be in view!
ILLUS: A January 15th, 1989 article ran this story: A family living in a West Palm Beach home in Florida gave permission to have their home used in a TV show called, “B.L. STRYKER” … one scene involved the blowing up of the front yard, violent crashes of cars on the property, etc. Just in the nick of time however someone discovered that the family giving permission were only renting the house ... it was owned by someone in New York who put a stop to the plans! The couple renting thought it would be great fun ... but not the owner of the house! You can guess how well the owners felt about their tenants after this! – Source Unknown
B. Consequences Luke 16:2
1. He was called in ... the time came for accountability, it always will!
2. The way we live will tend to be the way we die!
ILLUS: When Pompeii was being excavated years ago the discovering of many perfectly preserved bodies were found frozen in lava, it had even preserved the expressions on the faces of those who were entombed alive from Mount Vesuvius' eruption. People were frozen in positions of trying to flee ... except one woman who was found turned toward the volcano ... her hand clutching for a string of pearls, considered too precious and costly to leave behind! The consequence for this pause was death ... she took her pearls with her ... but they cost her life! – Source Unknown
3. Poor stewardship can cause us to lose our management position, and our future stability!
4. There are real consequences to poor stewardship!
II. ACTION REQUIRED! Luke 16:3-7
A. Choices! Luke 16:3
1. Eventually ... one must face the choices they make, when poor stewardship has been practiced!
a. The man had several choices:
(1. Heavy manual labor ... however, he was in no shape to do this from his earlier frivolous lifestyle or his age! “I'm not strong enough to dig,”
(2. Or begging, which he was too ashamed to do! “and I'm ashamed to beg.”
(3. Or correct the error in such a way as to redeem his reputation and regain favor!
b. The man had skirted the letter of the law when making loans by writing notes that added interest without calling it interest, a common practice of the day among Jewish business deals done by such managers. This was usually how they earned their own living. Here’s how it worked:
(1. For example ... someone borrows 80 bushels of grain, as manager you write the loan out for 100 bushels but don't note the 20 bushels to the Master, it is interest that you as manager keep in the deal; so the borrower gets a note for 100 bushels owed, the manager pockets the 20 while loaning out from his master the 80! This way the master is only out 80 bushels, and the manager has made money by keeping the 20 that is paid back, his salary. Depending on the value of type of produce the amounts considered as “salary” money for the manager varied … wheat was considered more valuable than olive oil; hence the differences in the amount above the actual deal.
(2. This was the only way around the letter of the law that did not permit a Jewish brother to charge other Jews usury.
(3. They rationalized it this way: God only intended to not charge usury to the poor, thus those who were not poor could pay for the loan note ... but in one sum amount, not compounded interest payments.
(4. Most everybody accepted the practice as is evidence by the fact that these positions of "managers" existed ... that was how managers earned their living!
c. What will the man do? He faced a difficult choice ... to do the right thing by honoring the law ... or life without hope!
B. Comprehensive Luke 16:4-7
1. The manager reasons that the only GOOD way out was to be comprehensive with his solution ... to obey the law of the land although changing the loans ... with the hope that this might allow him either restoration on the job ... or at least compassion by those who borrowed so he might be cared for if the master followed through and fired him!
2. He begins by going to those he had made the loans with and rewriting the loans so that they are minus the one time interest payment that he was allowed to keep! Also cutting the loans owed to the master would ingratiate those who borrowed through him, that way they would feel sorry for him if he was fired – and removing the “interest” payment did not cost the master any loss – he would still get back the original amount borrowed, so this would assuage the anger of the master!
a. Notice the change in perspectives in the manager now:
(1. Before, his passion was living for the moment!
(2. Now his plan takes on the following: "I KNOW WHAT I'LL DO SO THAT IF I LOSE MY JOB HERE PEOPLE WILL WELCOME ME INTO THEIR HOUSES!"
(3. He has now developed a "future" mindset ... planning for tomorrow ... this includes helping people -- knowing that when he needs help it will be there for him too!
(4. The situation has refocused his priorities!
(5. Profit starts to give way to people and his own future need!
b. Two examples are shared as to how he plans now for his future!
(1. One man who owed 800 gallons of olive oil had his loan remade for only 400 gallons – the actual amount borrowed from the master, the other 400 gallons was the cutback the manager would normally get. (Olive oil was easily diluted by other liquids so the "interest" charge was usually higher ... the amount equaled about 450 olive trees!)
(a. The extra 400 gallons was the profit the steward was able to personally pocket ... so rewriting the loan was not making the master lose anything ... and it made the one who had to pay the loan back got a much more manageable debt to repay, thus he too was happy ... it would only be the manager's financial loss this way, but he would at least retain friendships!
(b. Thus it cost the poor stewardship his own income ... a price worth paying if he ever wanted anyone to care for him in the future!
(2. The second example is a man who owed 1,000 bushels of wheat ... it was rewritten for 800 ... thus reflecting the manager's profit being 200 bushels.
(a. The interest amount was lower because this commodity was more difficult to dilute being a grain ... less was added as interest therefore.
(b. Again ... the master's amount given in the deal was actually 800 bushels ... the extra 200 bushels being kept as the manager's fee for making the loan.
(3. Most deals in that day were made in oil or wheat as the chief commodities of the day ... something almost everyone possessed to some degree.
3. This manager thus was giving away his own earnings in order to restore his reputation with his master ... who would lose little if anything in the new deals, and also the manager gained the favor of the ones who received the loan by now having them pay back a much smaller loan ... thus gaining their friendship, and receiving by this a more promising future!
a. He reasoned that regained respectability and friendship would have better long term returns than the profits he had made in the process!
b. His focus has completely shifted from a “temporary” one to a “long-term” one.
4. It was a well-thought out strategy ... and a wise one!
a. The master wouldn't fight it ... it was the Jewish law being upheld ... he wouldn’t want to look like he was against the law of God by demanding the interest payment!
b. The people with the loan wouldn't gripe ... they had less to pay back!
c. Everyone would win ... except the manager who would lose money, but he would gain back his reputation and care ... and his future! In this way the Bible states that his master said this steward was “shrewd.”
5. Sometimes the drive to get isn't worth the price tag!
ILLUS: A man who had an ant problem bought some ant poison. Sprinkling the tiny poison pellets he watched as the ants gathered them up and in a steady stream carried them down into the ant hole; he suddenly noticed a second trail going away from the hole. Looking closely he noticed some other ants had snuck in and were stealing from the other ants ... carrying off as fast as they could the same poison ... while they thought they were getting away with a good deal ... their stealing would only bring death to those they were taking this poison to! Their taking would only destroy their own homes ... they would have been better not to sneak in and take from their brother ants! How often we covet other Christians and their belongings ... yet we might not be as capable of handling those "things" as they are ... be content with what God has made possible! – Source Unknown
III. ACCEPTANCE RESTORED! Luke 16:8-9
A. Commendation! Luke 16:8a
1. This is where the commendation comes in from the master ... how could the master condemn him for doing what the law required in the first place?
2. In fact the master was impressed with the comprehensive and careful thought that was involved in the manager’s plan!
3. Everyone gained in the exchange ... only monetary loss for the manager was experienced!
a. Holding on to things so tight can be wasteful!
ILLUS: A Wycliffe publication called, "In Other Words" tells the story of a gal who served for many years as a houseparent for missionaries' children in the Philippines ... this gal, Sadie loved books, so much so that she wouldn't lend certain ones to anyone, she carefully stored them in a trunk that she kept under her own bed. One night she heard a gnawing sound, after searching the room and finding nothing she looked into her footlocker where she kept those precious books ... only to find that termites had completely turned her books into heaps of ashes ... what she had hoarded she lost, only those books she allowed to circulate had been saved! – Source Unknown
b. Clutching onto the things of this world will not allow you to keep having them ... better to invest them for eternal things!
4. Some day we too will give account of how we use things of this world, better to invest into eternal stocks than be bound with rust and dust!
5. The master couldn't really condemn the manager any longer ... or he would have appeared to condemn the law of God!
a. Thus the manager preserved his job ... as well as made new friends!
b. He also likely thought about his future more seriously from then on too!
c. It is unlikely this manager forgot the lessons of good stewardship!
B. Challenge Luke 16:8b-9
1. Now an interesting comment is made by Jesus: “The children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light!”
a. What does this mean? Just that when working out a solution people in the world understand the importance of planning for the future and making sure the deals benefit everyone and is fair!
b. As Christians how many of you have made plans for both your temporal future and your eternal one?
2. It is not a question of trusting God if one plans for financial security in the future ... as long as it does not mean ignoring investing in eternal purposes as well!
a. The idea is balance ... and fairness to all parties!
b. Balance toward God and plan for your loved ones and yourself!
3. The next weird sounding statement Jesus makes is in verse 9: “Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
a. This is not as strange as it sounds; it is the echo of what I just said, plan for the future, but not at the expense of investing in eternal things!
b. The point being: use things to bless others so they will come to Christ and in eternity welcome you by being there and rejoicing over your coming, knowing you invested and used things for them to teach them spiritual realities!
4. Thus Jesus is saying a couple of things about the use of material things:
a. Don't manipulate ... but do influence others!
b. Win people by being generous ... it is likely to have them look into deeper things in life by seeing people who can also take material things and not see them as their possessions ... that people are more important than things!
c. Temporal values are nothing compared to eternal dividends they might yield!
d. Invest in others by using the things of this world! Their ultimate salvation will be the best return on the dollar invested!
5. In a sense, this increases Jesus' teaching on the value of things ... at least in how we use them, or in other words, what kind of stewardship we practice!
a. Self-indulgence is not the Christian's goal! Thus all the teaching emphasizing material prosperity for Christians is contrary to the true model of stewardship. Real prosperity for Christians are eternal things, not material things.
b. A balanced approach to the future in required of good stewards!
ILLUS: A skit done by the Covenant players: Family comes home from church complaining over the music, the choir, the length of the sermon, the topic, etc.; until their little girl states, “What did you expect from the 25 cents you gave in the offering dad!” – Source Unknown
6. You get what you put into it!
IV. ACCLAIM & RESPONSIBILITY Luke 16:10-15
A. Character Luke 16:10-12
1. God takes careful note on how we use material things!!!
a. Those that have the character to be faithful in little things are more likely to be trusted to handle greater things!
b. This is a character issue ... if untrustworthy with small responsibilities, larger ones won't make you more trustworthy ... in fact, they are likely to make you less if you are already a poor steward!
2. God in His grace often keeps poor stewards from prospering lest they corrupt themselves with great riches ... sometimes poverty is a gift from God to teach important stewardship lessons!
a. However ... not all poverty means this, as does prosperity, not all prosperity is a sign of God’s favor or disfavor either!
b. One must judge his own heart in these matters!
ILLUS: The great preacher Charles Spurgeon and his wife were deeply criticized by many members of their church and even by their family members for selling eggs their chickens laid. They even charged their own family members for the eggs! They accepted the criticisms without defending themselves all their lives ... until just after their deaths the family and church members learned that they had for years taken the money they got from the egg sales and used it to support two widows in the church. No one noticed since this was money above their tithes to the church. They took the criticisms knowing their reward would greet them in heaven ... these widows one day welcomed them into heaven with rejoicing over their contributions! – Source Unknown
B. Caution! Luke 16:13-15
1. As a final note Jesus states an important truth: “You cannot serve 2 different masters.”
a. It is either GOD you serve or MONEY! Why these two? Because both affect every area of our life!
b. Money makes a great servant ... but a lousy master!
c. God makes a great master ... but He is not our servant!
2. The note of caution is this: IT IS NOT THE AMOUNT THAT CAN CORRUPT YOU ... IT IS THE ATTITUDE TOWARD THINGS IN GENERAL!
a. You can become corrupt and be poor!
b. You can be rich and still be godly!
ILLUS: How much does it take to block someone's view of things? Take 2 pennies and put them in front of your eyes ... that's how much can block your view of life, if that is all you see! – Source Unknown
3. Anyone can lose perspective if all you look at is things!
4. God’s values and ours don't always match ... better to bet on His than your own!
5. Are you planning as aggressively about eternal things as you are about your earthly future?
CONCLUSION: Stewardship is not something that can be avoided easily ... really never! How we manage our money is connected with how well we manage our lives! Long term investments are important ... are you making eternal ones?