Summary: A teaching message on Luke 16:1-10.

Luke Series #72 July 14, 2002

Title: How to Use Money Wisely



Introduction: Welcome to New Life in Christ. This morning we are in Chapter 16 of the Book of Luke in our verse-by-verse teaching series out of that book.

Read Luke 16:1-15

Opening Prayer

In today’s Scripture passage Jesus talks about money, specifically the wise use of money. In this passage, Jesus shares how Christians need to be smart in using money in a way that will be honored by God, honoring to God, and will be of ultimate benefit to them. Since every one of us does use money, we all need to know how to use it wisely.

Today I will be sharing with you three principles for using money wisely. Before I get to those particular principles, I want to explain and elaborate on this parable, which has often been perplexing to people.

In New Testament times extremely wealthy people would hire managers or stewards to oversee their financial affairs. These managers would keep the books, approve of expenditures, pay employees, and track loans. Today we call such people "financial managers." In this story the manager has been caught "wasting" the owners possessions and so is told that he should get the books in order because he will be fired (vs. 1, 2). The Hebrew word translated as "wasting" is the same Hebrew word used in the story of the Prodigal Son to describe his selfish indulgence when he "squandered his wealth." This lets us know that the manager was not just guilty of making some bad investments, rather he had misappropriated the owners funds to spend it inappropriately on his self. He was in charge of the money but had used it to indulge himself rather than to further his master’s purposes.

The manager realizes that he is a real heap of trouble because he will not be able to get another job managing money, he is too old or to weak for manual labor, and too proud to beg. How are his needs be met in the future? He does not ignore this dilemma but prudently considers his future well-being. In the process he comes up with a plan to secure his future needs. He decides to use this last opportunity as the owner’s legal manager to help other s by reducing the debts they owed to the owner so that they will show him a favor when he is in need. As a result of using the owner’s money to help others he rightfully expects that "people will welcome him into their houses." A phrase Jesus repeats in verse 9 in the application of the parable.

Most parables have something in the story either shocking or unexpected. In the parable of the Good Samaritan it is shocking that a despised Samaritan would be the one to show love to his neighbor. In the story of the Prodigal Son it is unexpected that the father would lovingly welcome home a rebellious and foolish son. This parable also has a conclusion that is unexpected and bewildering. In verse 8, Jesus says that when the master found out what the dishonest manager had done he "commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly." The thing that confuses people is that a crook would be praised, but if you look carefully at the story it is not the manager’s dishonesty that is commended, rather it is his shrewdness, i.e. his prudency and wisdom in planning for his future well-being.

Some people just cannot accept that Jesus would use such an unscrupulous character to teach a spiritual lesson, but keep in mind that Jesus used the story of an unjust judge and an uncaring friend to teach the disciples about the value of persistent prayer in the parable of the "Friend at Midnight" and the parable of the "Persistent Widow."

After telling the parable, Jesus then exhorts his disciples, who are called "people of the Light ", to be just as shrewd or wise in using money for eternal benefits as the "people of the world" are in using money for temporal benefits. This is the main point of the parable. Christians should use the money they have now wisely, in a way that will honor God and benefit themselves. How do Christian use money wisely? Jesus answers that question in verses 9-15.

Read Luke 16:9-15.

In these verses I see three principles for using money wisely.

1. First, to use money wisely we need to recognize that we are managers and not the owners of money.

Jesus emphasizes this point in the parable in which the primary character we’re to learn from is a manager and not the true owner of the money. Jesus reemphasizes this point in verse 12 where he is explicitly states that we are handling "someone else’s property." The true owner of everything is God of course. Many Christian struggle with the principle of us being managers instead of owners of money. They think that the 10 percent of their income they give to the church belongs to God while the other 90 percent is theirs to use as they see fit, provided they did not acquire it dishonestly or use it immorally. Jesus and the Bible tell us differently. The Bible teaches that 100 percent of our material goods, whether money or possessions, belong to God. As such we are not only responsible for how we use the first 10 percent but also for how we use the other 90 percent of the money God allows us to acquire.

1. First, to use money wisely we need to recognize that we are managers and not the owners of money.

This mindset or attitude will change our behavior and handling of money. It will result in a more careful and appropriate use of the money that we have received from God. We tend to be wiser and more cautious in using those things that do not belong to us. If I borrow someone else’s car, I tend to drive more carefully and work harder to keep it clean because it does not belong to me and I know that I will be held accountable for how I use it. It is the same with money. When we recognize that money does not belong to us and that will be held accountable for its use, will be less inclined to use it selfishly or carelessly.

When we understand that we are managers of God’s money and not owners of money we will not ask ourselves, "How much money can I afford to spend on myself?" But rather "How much money do I dare spend on myself?"

Does this mean that a Christian cannot spend any money on himself or herself? No. A manager in New Testament times was entitled to use some of the master’s money to meet his and his family’s needs and to use some for leisurely pursuits, but the manager’s first priority was to furthering the owner’s purposes with the money. If the manager were using the money primarily to indulge his wants then he was not being a good steward and was in danger of judgment as we see in the parable. So we need ask ourselves, "After my family’s basic needs are met, what do I usually do with most of the extra? Is it primarily used for satisfying my own wants? Or is it primarily used for furthering God’s purposes?" Are you acting as if you were the owner of money or are you acting wisely, knowing that you are a manager of God’s money?

1. First, to use money wisely we need to recognize that we are managers and not the owners of money.

This principle serves as a basic foundation for using money wisely, so I went over it first. Now let’s look at the second principle for using money wisely.

2. To use money wisely we must use the money we have to help people.

Read Luke 16:9-12.

In verse 9 Jesus is telling us to use money to help people in a similar way as the manager did in the parable. This is what is meant by "using worldly wealth to gain friends." The New Living Translation translates verse 9 as "…Use your worldly resources to benefit others…In this way your generosity stores up a reward in heaven." It might be argued that the manager did not use his own money but the master’s money to help others but that goes back to the first point, we’re always using the master’s money; we have none of our own. Keep in mind the master commended the owner for being shrewd or wise enough to do this.

Why is it wise to use money to help others? The answer is because money is temporary but the reward for helping others is eternal. Jesus makes this point in verse 9 where he says about money, "When it is gone you’ll be welcomed into eternal blessings."

First I want you to note that Jesus emphasizes the temporary nature of money. One day it will be gone, either through our own deaths, economic downturns, or foolish expenditures, so it is wiser to use it in a way in which the benefits are everlasting.

Illustration: There’s a story about a wealthy Christian who somehow got obsessed with the idea of taking some of his wealth to heaven. Now he knew the Bible clearly teaches that you can’t take it with you. But so obsessed was he with this desire that he just prayed & prayed that God would give him permission to take some of his wealth to heaven with him. Finally, his persistence in prayer paid off. God spoke to him & said, "Okay, enough all ready! You can take one suitcase with you into heaven."

Well, the story continues with the man deep in thought, "What do I take? What are the most valuable things that I can put into my suitcase?" Well, he finally decided, & filled his suitcase full. Then one day he died, & when next we see him, he is slowly approaching the pearly gates dragging his suitcase behind him.

St. Peter met him there at the gate & said, "Wait a minute. What do you think you’re doing? You’re not allowed to take anything into heaven." The man answered, "You don’t understand. I have special permission from God Himself to take this suitcase into heaven."

Peter rubbed his beard & said, "Well, that’s very unusual. I can’t imagine God letting you do that. Let me look inside your suitcase & see what’s there." So the man dragged the suitcase over, & Peter opened it to see that it was filled with gold bars & gold bricks & gold ingots. Peter said, "Well, all right. If God said so, I suppose you can take that in if you want. But why in the world did you go to all this trouble just to bring more pavement to heaven.

Money has no value in heaven, so the wisest thing you can do is invest in what will have value in heaven, which is using money to help others.

It’s like when I came back from the mission’s trip to Mexico. I had exchanged some American dollars for Mexican pesos for spending money while there, but I did not use it all and so I brought some of the pesos back to America. Now those pesos are useless here, I cannot even buy a pack of chewing gum with them. That currency is not accepted here but rather must be exchanged into an acceptable currency. It is the same in heaven. All the money we have acquired or spent on ourselves has no value. In heaven the only currency that counts is good deeds done to our others and the only opportunity you have to exchange money for this acceptable currency in heaven is in this life.

2. To use money wisely we must use the money we have to help people.

Some people misunderstand this verse to be teaching that going to heaven is dependent on doing good deeds but that is not what Jesus is saying. He is speaking of the type and quantity of rewards we will get when we get to heaven. Those rewards are contingent upon the way you spend money today.

1 Tim 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

1. First, to use money wisely we need to recognize that we are managers and not the owners of money.

2. To use money wisely we must use the money we have to help people.

Read Luke 16:10-12

In these verses Jesus is explaining why God will reward those who are faithful to use money appropriately, which means not for selfish indulgence but rather to help others and further God’s kingdom. The "very little" that Jesus speaks of in these verses refers to money while the "much" and "true riches" that Jesus speak of refer to rewards in heaven. Those who have been trustworthy in "handling worldly wealth" are rewarded with "true riches" or "property of their own" in the same way as we reward people who do their job faithfully today. For instance, when my daughters come of age to drive I might reward them or trust them to drive the family car, but only if they had been trustworthy in smaller things. If they have not been faithful to obey the rules of the road while riding their bikes then I certainly will not trust them with the car. The reward they give it is contingent upon using what they have now faithfully or correctly. Jesus is applying the same principle to heavenly rewards and handling of money. If we have been faithful to use money for God’s purposes to help others, then we can expect to be rewarded but "If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth (small things), who will trust you with true riches?" (Verse 11)

2. To use money wisely we must use the money we have to help people.

When I consider this principle, it is difficult to understand the actions and attitudes of some people. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th several news shows have reported an increase in the sale of big-ticket luxury items. Why would people spend more on self indulgence in these uncertain economic times? Well some research was done and some polls were taken in order to answer this question and what they discovered is that people felt that their lives might end sooner than they expected, so these people reasoned that they had better live it up now. This is a foolish way to think. If you think you’re going to die soon, then the wise thing to do is invest in eternal rewards by using money in such a way that God can bless you for all eternity!

Now let’s very briefly cover verses 13-15 and the third principle for using money wisely.

Read Luke 16:13-15

3. Third, to use money wisely we must choose serving God as our highest priority.

Jesus is primarily speaking to the religious leaders here, i.e. the Pharisees. They were very much interested in accumulating money and possessions. They even taught that a person’s wealth was connected to one’s holiness or spirituality. In effect they were the first prosperity teachers. They felt that their desire for money did not conflict with being godly people, but Jesus points out they cannot serve both! You cannot be focused on obeying God and at the same time be focused on getting rich. You end up devoted to one while despising the other. Having money and God both as high priorities in life is like a man trying to have a mistress and a wife. It just won’t work; the two are in conflict with each other. You must choose one or the other. You must make a choice - money or God.

Illustration: A woman gave her son Billy 2 quarters. One was for his Sunday School offering. The other was for an ice cream cone on the way home from Sunday School. Billy was flipping one quarter in the air and catching it on the way down. This happened 8 times or so when all of a sudden Billy missed catching it. It rolled down the storm sewer and was gone. Billy looked skyward and prayed, "Sorry, God."

At some point you will have to make a choice between obeying and serving God with your money or spending it on your wants, if you love money you will in essence say, “Sorry God.”

1. First, to use money wisely we need to recognize that we are managers and not the owners of money.

2. To use money wisely we must use the money we have to help people.

3. Third, to use money wisely we must choose serving God as our highest priority.

Conclusion: In verse 14 the people who love money got upset at Jesus’ message, as people in this room who love money will probably get upset at today’s message. They sought to "justify" or excuse their attitude towards money but Jesus reminds them that God "knows their hearts." He knows your heart also! Not only does God know how you handle money but more importantly he also knows your true motivations. Make sure that in your heart you value and see money in the same respect as God does, which means you see money as a tool to help others and to honor God. Jesus notes that what is highly valued among men, and by this he means the accumulation and use of money for selfish indulgences, is "detestable in God’s sight." I hope you will value what God values. God values faithfulness, helping others, generosity, and sacrifice.

Illustration: If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent in the world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, or spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8 percent of the world’s wealthiest people. I think that this would include most of us in here today. You and I have more money and possessions than 92 percent of the people in the world today. How we use this money? Will use it wisely or foolishly?

Closing Prayer