Summary: The final part of a three-part series on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, all inspired by the question, "How to Spend an Inheiritance."
Title: Shrewd Dealings
Text: Luke 16:1-9
FCF: We ought to use the talents, gifts, and love that our Lord gave us.
SO: Eventually, I want to get this church up and active – by reminding the church that it needs to use what the Lord has provided, I hope to remove barriers to service.
At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard this story. In 1626, the Dutch governor, Peter Minuit gave the Canarsie Indians $24 worth of beads and trinkets in exchange for island of Manhattan. Some 380 years later, the real estate value of that little island is now more than $47 billion dollars. Sounds like the Dutch got a good deal, no? It’s often been called the greatest real estate deal of all times. But, there’s a dirty little financial secret that you should know. If you had taken that same $24 and invested it at 6% interest, that same $24 would, as of 2005, be worth $170 [billion], $396 [million ], 280 [thousand], 415 dollars, and two cents.
If you don’t believe in the power of investing, you should know that when Benjamin Franklin died in 1791, he left the city of Philadelphia $1000, but he stipulated that the money couldn’t be touched for 300 years. In 1991, that gift was worth over $1.5 million.
And, oh, don’t feel so bad for the Canarsie Indians – it turned out that even though they sold the island of Manhattan – they actually didn’t own it. They were from Brooklyn.
In this morning’s scripture we got a little lesson in investing from Jesus, and I have to tell you, I wouldn’t have guessed that would have been a story Jesus would have told.
For the last two weeks, we’ve actually been talking about inheritances, and specifically, we’ve been looking at the very familiar parable of the prodigal son. But, interestingly enough, the early Church fathers often considered this parable – one that is usually called. “the parable of the unjust steward,” or the “parable of the dishonest manager” to be the last section of that parable. I think there’s merit to that idea.
You see, parable of the prodigal son, we learned that we have all been given a great inheritance – chiefly the love of our father. In the first part of the parable, we learned that wasting it is bad, but our father’s love is inexhaustible. We need only return to him, and he will love us again. By contrast, his brother, you’ll remember, tried his hardest to hold onto every little thing he had. But, the truth is that love which is hoarded is in fact, wasted. So then, what are we to do with this prodigious inheritance we’ve been given? I’d suggest the answer is most plainly given here. If we have been given a great inheritance by our father, we should invest it as best we can.
This parable gives us some guidelines about investing, and this morning I’d like to look at three of them:
I. Use What you have
II. Use it NOW
III. Use it wisely
Use What You Have
- Notice: At first, the steward focuses on what he doesn’t have / what he cannot do. (He can’t dig, won’t beg). This gets him nowhere.
- Then, he realizes what he still has. He had to be a bit “creative,” in the same sense we talk about Enron and “creative accounting” but he figured out that he had relationships with people.
o All of who choose to live in this world have relationships
o We all have time and a commitment to our Lord
o We all have a God who enables us to do (think David & Goliath, think Gideon, think feeding of the 4000 from just 7 loaves)
- General principal throughout Scripture (the “Light” Principal: to whom much has been given, much will be expected)– God never judges us for what we don’t have, only what we do with what we have been given:
o Parable of the Talents
o Story of the Widow’s Mite
o Even in the parable of the foolish virgins – the Bridegroom isn’t angry with the virgins who didn’t have oil for their lamps b/c they couldn’t afford it – it’s because they were foolish in using it all up.
- Here at Long Branch,
o we don’t have a children’s ministry. I’d like to be a big church and have one, but how many children do we really have? Rachel & Jesse and are very mature, and I think they’re able to get a lot from just being in here. How many kids are there?
o We don’t have the big church multiple ministry options. I wish I had a minister in charge of evangelism!
But we have members who regularly visit those in the nursing homes.