Summary: What did Jesus teach about money?
Why is money referred to as filthy lucre? Because we all sin, all money is tainted by sin of some kind. Is filthy lucre usable for heavenly purposes?
Let’s learn that filthy lucre can be used for heavenly purposes.
We will discuss a shrewd manager and his wise use of filthy lucre in Luke 16:1-13. Take a moment now to read the verses in your own Bible.
People versus Profits (Luke 16:1-4)
Luke 16:1 Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. 2 So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’ 3 “The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. 4 Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’
An absentee landowner buys land cheaply from debt-burdened farmers. The farmers now work as hired hands. The manager has great latitude. Was he more generous towards the tenant farmers than the owner wanted? Did he run up huge expenses spending the boss’s money for himself? The manager’s next scheme has selfish motives. His other options were manual labor and begging.
Forgiving Debts (Luke 16:5-7)
Luke 16:5 “So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ 6 The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’ 7 “‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’
The manager made arrangements to forgive his boss’s debtors. He must have had the authority. Was it dishonest? Did the owner cheat the people in the first place? The boss commends his manager for shrewdness. The manager now has grateful friends. Was the manager unjust? Were his motives also to benefit those cheated? The debt forgiveness was a great blessing.
Worldly Wise and Righteous Fools (Luke 16:8)
Luke 16:8 “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.
Is Jesus praising those who misuse money? Ought Christians use even the corrupt resources of this world for any possible good they can do? Can loving and trusting churches be foolish with money? Are all of this world’s teachings about money evil? Is Jesus saying to use money in manners similar to dishonest rascals, but for eternal and godly purposes?
Dirty Money (Luke 16:9)
Luke 16:9 Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.
Parables leave room for hearty conversation, deep thought and different opinions. Jesus challenges us to think about the wise use of money to benefit others. A church once returned an offering they saw as dirty money. But, all money is corrupted in some way. Jesus’ instructions were quite the opposite. He said to use unrighteous mammon to make eternal friends.
Faithful with Little (Luke 16:10-12)
Luke 16:10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?
Many people are untrustworthy, finding immoral but legal ways to misuse money. The money we have is on loan from God. Even a trillionaire on earth has little compared to owning the whole Universe. Can God trust us with money? God loaned us just a little temporarily. How faithful to God are we with what little He has given us?
Serving Two Masters (Luke 16:13)
Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Does money master us or do we master money? In ancient Israel the wealth was spread equally in a planned system to minimize poverty, using a seven year and fifty year redistribution. The jubilee system prevented some abuses of wealth. We can master money and bring small jubilees to the poor. Do we serve only God and yet use money shrewdly?