Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Jesus instructs through a parable how those who follow Him are to be stewards of all they possess.

“Jesus also said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who had a manager and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, “What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.” And the manager said to himself, “What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.” So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, “How much do you owe my master?” He said, “A hundred measures of oil.” He said to him, “Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.” Then he said to another, “And how much do you owe?” He said, “A hundred measures of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill, and write eighty.” The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

“‘One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.’” [1]

“Put your money to work for you.” This slogan was popularised by a foreign owned bank during the time it sought to become established in Canada. Though you perhaps imagine that this slogan was coined by that bank, the concept is actually quite old. Money is a tool—nothing more and nothing less. Wealth can bless an individual, or wealth can curse an individual. The factor determining whether money is a blessing or a curse lies in how wealth is used. The Master provided an example of fiscal wisdom with a story about a manager working in the employ of a rich man. That story and the commentary Jesus appended serves as the text for our message this day. Jesus used the story to teach an important truth to the people of that distant day when He walked the dusty hills of Judea. The lessons provided by the story are still applicable to people in this day.

Wealth may not be all that we imagine it to be. Money could not keep an ex-President of our neighbours to the south from experiencing the effects of eating too many hamburgers—he required a quadruple bypass surgery despite his rapid accumulation of wealth through demanding payments of a half-million dollars for a single speech. Neither has wealth spared wealthy homeowners in Florida from the effects of repeated hurricanes, although it is undoubtedly easier to rebuild after the winds have passed on.

Money is a tool. To be of benefit, money must be put to work. If all that is accomplished with money is the accumulation of more money, it is doubtful that the individual accumulating understands the purpose of wealth. If all that is accomplished with wealth is consuming wealth on pursuing personal desires, it is doubtful that the spendthrift understands the purpose of wealth. It would be wise to learn how to use the tool of wealth wisely.

A BRIEF RECOUNTING OF THE STORY JESUS TOLD — The setting for this story is important if we will understand Jesus’ teaching. The account is found in the sixteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel. Notice that Jesus told this story immediately after He had related three parables concerning the joy associated with finding that which had been lost. Jesus told of a lost sheep [LUKE 15:1-7], a lost coin [LUKE 15:8-10] and a lost boy—the latter account being the parable of the prodigal son [LUKE 15:11-32].

Our text then begins by informing, “He also said to the disciples.” This is a literary device alerting us to the fact that what has preceded lays a foundation for what we are about to read. The stories Jesus told before relating this account were for the benefit of someone other than His disciples. Those others to whom He had been speaking were the Pharisees and the scribes [LUKE 15:2].

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