Summary: Everything we have are gifts from God. Our time, talents, and resources are all gifts from God. Like beauty and brilliance, we are not responsible for having them, but we are very responsible for what we do with them.
The interviewer had traveled all the way to New York to interview him about preaching. Sitting in his living room, the young man was thrilled to be visiting with one of the most effective media ministers of all times. When television was young, he appeared in prime time on Sunday evenings, teaching the Bible. He was fully sponsored by Admiral Corp. His broadcasts appeared opposite Frank Sinatra and Milton Berle, the biggest stars of his day. His audience was between fifteen to twenty million viewers. In 1952, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences named Fulton Sheen the most outstanding personality of television. When accepting the award, he said, "I want to thank my writers .... Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John."
Now he was looking at the with those famous penetrating eyes and saying, "You have come to New York to talk to me about preaching? I cannot talk to you about preaching. I do not know what to say. Preaching is a gift. It is like being a beautiful woman. She is not responsible for having her beauty, but she is very responsible for what she does with it."
Everything we have are gifts from God. Our time, talents, and resources are all gifts from God. Like beauty and brilliance, we are not responsible for having them, but we are very responsible for what we do with them. Our salvation, our lives are gifts of God's grace. The Bible teaches that Christians can manage these gifts in a manner resulting in our attaining unlimited, unfading, guaranteed riches.
This is the theme of one of our Lord's most puzzling parables. Jesus told His disciples about a rich man who had a slave acting as steward like Joseph in Potiphar's house in the Genesis story. And please understand, this story was not for lost people, it was for people who had experienced the grace of God in their lives ... it was for people who had accepted Christ as their savior. The steward was responsible for managing his masters vast holdings. Someone suggested to the rich man that his steward was mishandling the money ... squandering it and spending it indiscriminately. The steward was called on the carpet and told to settle his affairs, get the books in order, and get out.
In wide-eyed panic, this dishonest manager began to ponder his future. "What in the world will I do? I am too lazy to work. I am too proud to beg. What will I do?"
The wheels in his brain began to turn counter-clockwise ... his brain's wheels were conditioned to turn in the wrong direction. His mind, greased by greed and expedience, worked rapidly. He thought, "I have it!" I will call in my master's debtors and reduce their debts, falsifying their accounts. Then because I have helped them, they will be obligated to help me. If they do not feel obligated enough, I will have material for blackmail because they will have had a part in the crime."
He called the debtors in one by one. "How much do you owe?" "One hundred measures of oil." The steward said, "Then change it to fifty." Another debtor came to his desk. "What is your debt?" "One hundred measures of wheat." "Then take the pen and write down eighty." And so it went.
When the master discovered this trickery, he was, believe it or not, impressed.
Oh, he was disturbed. Certainly, he was angry. And the steward did lose his job. But, the master was also impressed.
Jesus, author of this story, says there is something in the bad man's action which is a good example. He said, "This fellow is a shrewd dude. He is a crook, but he is clever in a way you need to emulate."
What is the lesson of this puzzling parable? It is this: Life, as he had experienced it, would soon be over. His days as a free-wheeling spender of another man's wealth were ending. He took steps to prepare for living beyond that abrupt ending.
In this setting, our Lord teaches us lessons in life management. Here is His emphasis: No matter how much or how little you may have in ability, opportunity, or wealth, you can manage your life in such a way as to be really rich.
If we would be truly successful, we must know that what we have, we have by the grace of God. We are merely managers. We must know and live by the laws of life management. Then you will reap the rewards of life management.
What We Have, We Have By The Grace of God
The principles of life management are built on the solid foundation of the grace of Almighty God. In Ephesians 1, this foundation is spelled out in remarkable clarity. The Bible declares we have been selected by the Father because He loves us. We have been saved by the Son who died on the cross because of that love.