Summary: Every paycheck is a test from God. Are you passing for failing the test?
Luke 16:1-13 YOU ARE BEING TESTED
You are being tested. Did you realize that? Sometimes psychologists will put a child into a room. They will surround the child with playmates, give the child toys, and then stand behind the two-way-mirror and watch. The psychologists will stand there with their lab coats on, their clipboards, and watch. How will that child act? What will he do with those toys? How will he treat his playmates? That child has no idea that he is being tested.
The same is true for you. God has placed you into this world. He surrounds you with people. And instead of giving you toys, God gives you money. And then God stands back and watches you. How will you act, God asks himself. What will you do with that money that I’ve given to you? How will you treat those people I’ve surrounded you with?
Do you realize that you are being tested, every time you receive a paycheck? God is watching you, looking into your mind to see how much you love the money that you are receiving. He watches your spending habits, to see if you’re spend all your money on yourself, or if you’re generous toward others. He looks at your budget, to see if you’re worldly, or if you’re spiritual, in the way that you use your money. God says to himself, “I’ve given that person health, certain skills, and the opportunity to make money. Now how will he, or she, use it?” Do you realize that God is testing you, examining your attitudes, your motives, your choices, every time you receive a paycheck?
In some ways, it’s intimidating, isn’t it? What is Jesus looking for from me, in my approach to money? Since I know I’m being tested, and since I want to please God and please my Savior, in all things, including my use of money – how should I do that? What does God want me to do?
In our Gospel lesson for this morning, Jesus taught his disciples about money. He told them the story of a man who was fired from his job. He was a manager of financial accounts for a rich man, and he was about to be thrown out onto the street. So what does he do? He decides that he’s going to make some friends before he loses his job. He calls in one person who owes his master some money, and says to him, “Here’s what I’m going to do for you. I’m going to cut your bill in half.” He calls in another person who owes his master money, and says to him, “Here’s what I’m going to do for you – I’m going to cut your bill by 20 percent.” He was hoping that these people would someday welcome him and help him after he lost his job.
When his master found out what he was doing, he commended the dishonest manager, Jesus tells us, because he was being so shrewd and clever when it came to money. And then, Jesus gives the main point of this story in verse 9: “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Use the money you have right now with the future in mind. Make friends for yourself that will someday welcome you into heaven. Don’t just spend your money on yourself – use it to benefit other people. And don’t just spend your money on earthly things. Use your money for spiritual purposes, to benefit people in a spiritual way, so that when you go to heaven, there will be people there who will welcome you.
For example, a friend of yours has fallen on hard times. It’s really his own fault – he has made some bad choices in his life. And now he needs help. What do you do? If you help that person with your money, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. You’re not going to be able to spend as much on yourself, for entertainment, or for clothes, or for gadgets, or for trips. But you want to help this person, and so you make some sacrifices.
But you also want to see that person in heaven someday. What good is it to be nice to someone, and then that person dies and goes to hell? And so you also use your money to support the ministry of the Word of God. There is a church that is reaching out to your friend. Now if you use your money to support that church, once again, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. You’re not going to be able to spend as much on yourself. All those things you want to buy for yourself – you’re not going to be able to do it all, if you’re serious about financially supporting the ministry of the Word of God. So what do you do? You decide to make that sacrifice.