Summary: In this sermon today I want you to notice six principles of wise money management.
D. James Kennedy, pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, tells a story of a man who came to Peter Marshall, former chaplain of the Unites States Senate, with a concern about tithing. He said: “I have a problem. I have been tithing for some time. It wasn’t too bad when I was making $20,000 a year. I could afford to give the $2,000. But you see, now I am making $500,000 a year, and there is just no way I can afford to tithe $50,000 a year.”
Dr. Marshall reflected on this wealthy man’s dilemma but gave no advice. He simply said: “Yes, sir. I see that you do have a problem. I think we ought to pray about it. Is that alright?”
The man agreed. So Dr. Marshall bowed his head and prayed with boldness and authority, “Dear Lord, this man has a problem, and I pray that you will help him. Lord, reduce his salary back to the place where he can afford to tithe.”
Many of us struggle to manage the money the Lord has entrusted to us. Today, I want to consider how good stewards manage money. Let’s read the Parable of the Faithful Steward as a background for this study. So, please turn to Luke 12:42-48:
42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
47 “That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:42-48)
When it comes to talking about money, there are two extremes in the Christian world.
The first extreme is “prosperity theology,” which teaches that it is God’s will that Christians be rich. Prosperity teachers preach on Scriptures dealing with money and prosperity.
One preacher who made a lot of money about fifty years ago was Marjoe Gortner. Marjoe first gained a certain fame in the late 1940s and early 1950s when he became the youngest ordained preacher—at the age of four! When Marjoe was three, his father noticed his son’s talent for mimicry and overall fearlessness of strangers and public settings. His parents claimed Marjoe had received a vision from God during a bath. They began training him to deliver sermons, complete with dramatic gestures and emphatic lunges. By the time Marjoe was four, his parents arranged for him to perform a marriage ceremony, referring to him as “the youngest ordained minister in history.”
Until the time he was a teenager, Marjoe and his parents traveled the rural United States, holding revival meetings. As well as teaching him scriptural passages, Marjoe’s parents also taught him several money-making tactics, involving the sale of supposedly “holy” articles at revivals which promised to heal the sick and dying. By the time Marjoe was sixteen, he later estimated, his family had amassed maybe three million dollars.
But, shortly after his sixteenth birthday, Marjoe’s father absconded with the money, and a disillusioned Marjoe left his mother for San Francisco, where he was taken in by and became the lover of an older woman. Marjoe spent the remainder of his teenage years as an itinerant hippie until his early twenties, when, hard pressed for money, he decided to put his old skills to work. He re-emerged on the revival circuit with a charismatic stage-show modeled after those of contemporary rockers, most notably Mick Jagger. Marjoe made enough money to take six months off every year, during which he returned to California, surviving on the previous six months’ earnings.
The second extreme ignores the subject of money entirely. These preachers feel it is somehow dirty or unspiritual to talk about giving and money. Rod Rogers notes in his book, Pastor Driven Stewardship, that one great preacher ministered for fifty years, and his biographer bragged that he never once preached on money! Even though the Bible is filled with teaching on money, giving, and God’s promises regarding money, some never preach on these passages. They have a fear of being thought of as a “prosperity preacher.”