Summary: Jesus teaches us about money/stewardship. A great formula for being a good steward is to: 1. Gain all we can 2. Save all we can 3. Invest in the lives of others all that we can (Adapted from John Wesley's Sermon on Money)
Title: Dollars and Jesus Sense
Jesus teaches us about money/stewardship. A great formula for being a good steward is to: 1. Gain all we can 2. Save all we can 3. Invest in the lives of others all that we can (Adapted from John Wesley's Sermon on Money)
Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world.
One of the greatest things about the Christian Life is it's Experiential nature. That is to say that Christianity involves more than learning dogma, practicing the art of mental assent or inward introspection. Christianity is to be lived out in everyday life.
Yes, there are great theological truths to be meditated upon and assimilated. There are deep philosophical truths to be examined and reflected upon. But at the heart of Christianity is a life lived in the image of Christ. Christianity must be fleshed out; it must be experienced in everyday life. A life in Christ is just that - a life. Authentic Christianity is practical, breathable and concrete.
I believe that is one reason why Jesus taught through parables. His parables come out of everyday life experiences. He wanted his listeners to experience and breathe them inwardly and outwardly. Take the Parable of the Four Soils (Luke 8:4-21) for example. It's theology can be waxed eloquently as one speaks of the majesty of the Good News, the tragedy of sin and the permanence of the evangelical message.
But one loses it all if one doesn't understand that Jesus wants us to take that parable and experience its truths in our individual and corporate lives. We are to see the dangers of superficial discipleship. We are to see the dangers of worldly temptations and spiritual indifference. We are to rejoice in the supernatural multiplication that surrounds spiritual blessings; 30, 60 and 100 fold.
Jesus' teaching are sensible and practical. Jesus was not interested in teaching a philosophy, a theology or an ideology that could not be actively experienced and practiced. A Christianity that cannot be lived out in the here and now is not orthodox Christianity.
This morning, our passage for some people is a rather sticky one. It involves the story of a certain dishonest steward. He was under suspicion of embezzlement. His boss thought he was doctoring the books. As a result of his mismanagement his services would no longer be needed. It is understood that there will also be a full audit done on his activities.
However, before the audit can be concluded the dishonest steward sees a golden opportunity. He will rewrite some of the invoices and gain some advantage. Apparently, he had been padding the bill. So, before he is dismissed he reduces some of the outstanding bills of his best clients to curry their favor. He believes that by doing so when they will in turn feel indebted to him and take care of him. He is not strong enough to do manual labor and his has too much pride to beg. Plus he already has already been cheating his boss so what is wrong with a little more graft?
The Bible tells us that the amounts this dishonest steward changed were quite substantial. His olive oil client saved around 1,000 denarii ( about three years' salary) while the wheat client saved around 2,500 to 3,000 denarii ( around 9 1/2 years wages).1 These reductions were so significant that no wonder this man thought his clients would feel the need to repay him. After all one hand washes the other and he had provided a lot of soap.
I think we can safely conclude that the owner did not know what was going on and by the time he realized what was happening the deals were already done. The bills have been rewritten and the amounts been paid. Instead of being over upset with his dishonest steward he heaps praise upon him. He praises him not for his pilfering but for his shrewdness in strategic planning. He praises him for his ability to curry favor at his boss's expense.
Now, please understand that Jesus doesn't condone this man's dishonesty either. That is not the purpose of Jesus sharing this story. Jesus uses this story to teach a lesson on stewardship. Jesus wants us to understand that we are to be good stewards of everything that God has placed in our control. We are to understand first and foremost that everything comes from God and belongs to God. While we are here on his earth we are mere stewards and caretakers.
Anytime you broach the subject of money and resources you can feel the stress level rise. In our country we are far more likely to talk about anything else before sharing any information concerning what is in our financial portfolios. The Northwestern Mutual’s 2014 Planning and Progress Study found that conversations about money outrank any other uncomfortable conversation topic among Americans—including talking about the “birds and the bees,” asking adult-age children to get a job or move out, and discussing death. Sex is no longer #1 taboo subject. All you have to do is turn on the TV, read social media and you will agree. Money, however, in many ways is the #1 taboo subject. We’re taught it’s impolite to talk about how much something cost or how much money someone earns. And we are taught that money is a subject that one avoids even more than politics or religion.