Summary: “No servant can serve two masters. 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 both God and money” Luke 16:13.
Theme: You cannot serve God and money
Text: Amos 8:4-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-8; Lk. 16:1-13
God is concerned about our future and teaches us to also show that same concern. Our concern should lead us to make the right decisions in life. When God created the tree that yields fruit, the Scriptures declare that its seed was in it according to its kind and the Lord saw that it was good. The fruit was to be a source for food and the seed was to be planted to yield fruit for the future. Man therefore should also prepare for the future. Today most people prepare for the future by making various investments. But unfortunately, for very many people their understanding of future relates only to time and only a few people understand that the future extends beyond time and into eternity. An average person invests 10-30 years of his or her life preparing for a working life that will last at most 70 years. But that same person spends very little time preparing for eternity although the time we spend on earth compared to the time we will spend in eternity is but a moment. Preparing for our real future that is preparing for eternity is to submit to the Lordship of Christ. It is to accept His love and grace to transform our lives. It is taking God and His Word seriously and living a life that honours and imitates Christ and displays godly character. This life is the responsibility of every individual and we should stop behaving as if life is only here on earth - that is in time. We need to always keep in mind that we cannot live and do what we want and that we are only being allowed to use the resources that belong to God. We should never forget that the Psalmist teaches, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein”. God owns everything and has entrusted man with its supervision and management. As stewards we are responsible for and accountable to God for what happens to His Creation. Each one of us will be required to give an account of our stewardship to God. You belong to God and are His steward and you cannot serve God and money.
This is clearly illustrated in the parable about the unjust steward who was only concerned about himself. He therefore squandered his master’s possessions. Today we would describe such a person as a crooked accountant who used creative bookkeeping techniques to enrich himself. This parable does not single out one particular person or one particular business but applies to every person no matter his or her profession. Such people are not interested in the reason for their employment and the success of the business. Their only interest is in what they can get out of the business. Whereas they were employed to make profit for the business, they see their employment as a means of enriching themselves. They see their employment as a way to amass wealth and possessions. They forget that when the business prospers they will also end up prospering and that when the business goes bankrupt they will be without a job.
This is the story of many businesses especially the state owned enterprises in our country. The businesses are run down and collapse, as those who destroy them believe they only existed to make them rich. In today’s parable the unjust steward decided to enrich himself at the expense of the business and his master. The boss eventually caught on with what was happening and decided to give him his termination notice. No person would tolerate such a situation since we all want proper use and management of our resources. He asked him therefore to give an account of his stewardship. The accountant immediately sought a solution to the problem he was about to face. He was not sorry for what he had done. He was only sorry for what he was going to lose – his source of wealth. He had probably not considered that he was too old and lazy to do any physical work like filling potholes. He had probably also not considered that he was too proud to beg. But now that he knew his days were numbered he looked for a solution and found it in an unethical but ingenious way. He decided to falsify the books. So he called some of the people who owed his boss and told them to change the copy of their invoice while he changed his. The debtor who owed a hundred measures of olive oil changed the amount to fifty and a second who owed a hundred measures of wheat changed it to eighty. The unjust steward used what did not belong to him, what belonged to his boss, to build up a reserve of personal favours he could use later on. He used money to make friends. This has always been a very common practice and politicians often use money to get the support they need. We all know that those with money usually have a lot of friends because people know how to gravitate around money. You only know who your real friends are when you no longer have any money. The unjust steward made deals to make friends and when his boss realised what he was doing, he had a most unusual reaction. He praised the steward’s ingenuity and shrewdness. He praised him because when he realised how desperate his situation had become he took steps to prepare for the future. As the unjust steward saw the urgency to prepare for the future, so too must the disciple see the urgency and imminence of death and judgement and prepare for it by changing his or her behaviour accordingly. We do this by writing off all debts, forgiving everyone and forgoing all self-centred interests before it is too late.