The Gospel of Luke - Part 69: Use Money to Prepare for Eternity — Luke 16:1-13
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

Last week, we finished Luke Chapter 15, where Jesus uses three parables to illustrate the value of reaching lost people. The bottom line is that

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” —Luke 19:10
And that is our job now. We are His Search and Rescue Team. Lost people are important to God and getting even one back brings Him great joy.

Today: We go on to Chapter 16 where Luke records parables that Jesus used to teach about money. It’s about wealth and what people do with it. Someone has observed that: “Money can take you anywhere but heaven and buy you anything but happiness.” People sometimes think there is something "unspiritual" in talking about money. You have probably heard someone speaking negatively about a church because "they talk too much about money". That can be a valid criticism, especially if people get the feeling that the church's motivation is to get your money! On the other hand, we need to address the issue of money as honestly and straightforward as God does in His Word. According to the book "How To Manage Your Money" by Larry Burkett,

"There are approximately 700 direct references to money in the Bible and hundreds more indirect references. Nearly two thirds of all the parables Christ left us deal with the use of money". (Larry Burkett, "How To Manage Your Money")
As you can see, Jesus talked a lot about money. Over and over again, Jesus teaches that how we use our money is a measure of our commitment to Him. In fact, Jesus spends this entire chapter focusing on issues related to our use of money. If we are truly His disciples, then we want this area of our life under His control and we want to follow His principles regarding our finances. As we study this, the question is:

What does your use of money say about your commitment to the Lord?

Bill Hybels in "Achieving Financial Freedom" says:

Money — We go to schools to become equipped to be able to earn it, and then we spend almost the rest of our lives, 40 to 60 hours a week, actually earning it. We invest countless hours and thought and discussion, deciding how we're going to handle it. We walk around shopping malls determining how we're going to spend it.

We get caught up more often that we would care to admit worrying that we won't have enough of it. We dream and scheme to figure out ways to acquire more of it. Arguments over it are among the leading causes of marital disintegration, business partnership breakups and government shutdowns.

Despair over losing it has led to many suicides. The obsession with getting it causes many of society's crimes. The absence of it causes many of societies nightmares. Some call it the root of all evils; some call it for the means for great good. But one thing we can all agree upon this morning — we cannot afford to ignore the reality or the importance of money.

And the Bible doesn't. It speaks to the subject matter head on, eyes open, no holds barred. And the Bible claims to be the single best guidebook on money management matter ever written. Some 2,000 passages refer to the use of money in the Bible. Approximately two-thirds of Jesus' parables make some reference to the use of money. (Bill Hybels, "Achieving Financial Freedom")
Luke Chapter 16 can be organized as:

    A. Use Money To Prepare For Eternity
    B. Use Money To Please The Lord
    C. Use Money To Pursue True Righteousness

Use Money To Prepare For Eternity:

Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’ And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.

And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings. He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” —Luke 16:1-13
Jesus tells two stories (parables) in this chapter. This first is aimed at the disciples and the second is directed at the Pharisees.
There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. —Luke 16:1
This story has a straight-forward plot: This manager had apparently been doing a very poor job of handling his employer's finances so he was fired. The manager becomes very anxious about being unemployed, as anyone would. In the course of wrapping up his responsibilities, the manager thinks of a way win the favor of some people so they might be willing to hire him. So he calls in each of the people who are in debt to his master and changes the books, reducing their debt significantly.

What the manager did was wrong. Jesus is by no means approving of wrong behavior. Rather, Jesus is commending the manager's reason for taking this action. The manager was planning for the future. He knew what was coming and did the best he could to prepare for it. In this way, this dishonest manager was wiser than many believers.

Beginning in verse 9, Jesus points out three practical applications we can make from this story:

1.   Be shrewd in your use of money:

And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. —Luke 16:8
The word “shrewd” here is from a Greek word, φρονιμος [phronimos], which is also translated “prudent, sensible, wise”. The American Heritage Dictionary defines this word as “characterized by keen intelligence, good judgment, a sense of the practical”.

What the dishonest manager did wasn’t right or honest but it was smart (shrewd). In verse 8, Jesus says that, sadly, many of God’s people aren’t very smart (shrewd) in their use of money.  The smart use of money is to get the best possible return for your investment, don’t you think? And that’s what Jesus is talking about here. We aren’t always “shrewd” in the use of our money. As parents, one challenge is to teach your children to spend their money wisely. Well, God has the same challenge with His children!

Ever think you spent money foolishly? Consider this as reported by Reuters New Service:

A South African woman mistakenly plunked a 100-year-old gold coin worth more than $1,000 into a parking meter while shopping without her glasses, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

"I can't believe I could have done something like that," said the woman, who asked not to be identified. The woman said she also believed she had spent another coin [an 1890 sovereign], worth a small fortune, as small change, the Cape Argus newspaper said.

The woman inherited the gold coins from her mother, but they became mixed up with loose coins she kept in a container and were transferred to her purse by mistake. (Reuters News Service)

A $1,000 coin spent for parking — what a waste! But what about us? Do we squander money on worthless stuff when we could be investing it in eternity?

Being shrewd with our money means we’re always thinking about our accountability to God. Both believers and unbelievers are accountable to God, it all belongs to Him, really.

And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings. —Luke 16:9
What do you think Jesus means by what He says in this verse?  Here are a couple of important truths for us to consider from this verse:

As disciples, we should use money wisely with eternity in mind. The manager in Jesus' parable used his position to prepare a place for himself once he was without a job. As certain as it was that the manager would lose his job, so certain is it that every person will die.

Hanging out at a bagel shop one day I asked a couple of non-Christian friends, "What's the most important thing I can pray for you?" The woman was taken back. "Health, I guess," she said.

"Health? That's not the most important thing," I said. "Sooner or later your health is going to go, no matter who prays for you. There must be something more important than that." She was stumped. "What's more important than that?"

"What about your relationship with God?" "I never thought about that."

Then her husband said, "You mean God is going to haul us into court or something?" Now I was surprised. "Yeah," I said, "I guess you could say that." (unknown source)

To be wise in the use of our money, we need to keep an eternal perspective.

In the Warrack Lectures of 1958 delivered in Scotland (and published under the title The Preacher's Calling to Be a Servant), D. T. Niles offered these words:

Hurry means that we gather impressions but have no experiences, that we collect acquaintances but make no friends, that we attend meetings but experience no encounter. We must recover eternity if we are to find time, and eternity is what Jesus came to restore. (Gordon MacDonald, ChristianityToday)
We make friends for eternity through the wise use of our money. There seem to be two ways to understand what Jesus means by saying we should “gain friends” who will welcome us to our eternal home:
(1) He may be referring to God and His approval and/or
(2) He may be referring to the lives we can touch for eternity through wise investments.

As we invest our finances in the work of God's kingdom we are investing our money in the lives of people. Consider what Jesus said in the following passage:

Don't store treasures for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them. But store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will be where your treasure is. —Matthew 6:19-21
Is the way you use your money bringing you closer to God or is it drawing you away from Him?

2.   Be a good steward in your use of money:

He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? —Luke 16:10-12
Just like the rich man entrusted his wealth to the manager, God has entrusted to us all the finances we have. How trustworthy are we? Whose priorities direct our spending? Verses 10-12 seem to give us three different ways of considering our money Each of these verses helps us to see money from God's point of view. We need to see money from God's perspective rather than embracing the world's view of wealth.

Notes from the Life Application Bible says, “Our integrity often meets its match in money matters. God calls us to be honest even in small details we could easily rationalize away. Heaven’s riches are far more valuable than earthly wealth. But if we are not trustworthy with our money here (no matter how much or little we have), we will be unfit to handle the vast riches of God’s kingdom. Don’t let your integrity slip in small matters, and it will not fail you in crucial decisions either.” (Life Application Bible Notes)

Verse 11 refers to “worldly wealth” in the NIV. However, this does not seem to be an accurate translation. The adjective here is αδικος [adikos] and is most often translated “unrighteous, wicked”. The NASV translates this phrase as “unrighteous wealth”.

Bible teacher and author Warren Wiersbe makes this observation in reference to Luke 16:11 — “Why is our Lord so concerned about the way we use money? Because money is not [morally] neutral; it is basically evil (‘the mammon of unrighteousness’ —KJV), and only God can sanctify it and use it for good.” (Warren Wiersbe, in "Be Courageous")

3.   Be surrendered to God in your use of money.

How we spend our money shows who we really love, who is most important to us. Remember the rich fool in Luke 12:16-20? He saved only for himself; he spent only on himself.

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. —Luke 16:13
This statement is also found in Matthew 6:24.

What might be some indicators that a person is serving Money? That Money has become their master? Money has the power to take God’s place in your life. It can become your master.

How can you tell if you are a slave to Money?
(1) Do you think and worry about it frequently?
(2) Do you give up doing what you should do or would like to do in order to make more money?
(3) Do you spend a great deal of your time caring for your possessions?
(4) Is it hard for you to give money away?
(5) Are you in debt?

Money is a hard master and a deceptive one. Wealth promises power and control, but often it cannot deliver. Great fortunes can be made — and lost — overnight, and no amount of money can provide health, happiness, or eternal life. How much better it is to let God be your Master. His servants have peace of mind and security, both now and forever. (Life Application Bible Notes)
Those notes also say:
We live in a materialistic society where many people serve money. They spend all their lives collecting and storing it, only to die and leave it behind. Their desire for money and what it can buy far outweighs their commitment to God and spiritual matters. (Life Application Bible Notes)
This is a really important principle. Satan tries to tell us that we "can have it all" — we can serve the Lord and please the world:
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. —James 4:4
"The fellow that has no money is poor. The fellow that has nothing but money is poorer still." (Billy Sunday)

You cannot serve both God and Money. This is a sober warning. Love for money will quench our love for God. Conversely, as we grow in our love for Him, we should see a corresponding decline in our desire for and preoccupation with money.

This verse doesn't mean that a wealthy person can't be a devoted disciple. But it does mean that our money must be surrendered to God.

The message of this passage is that we should manage money with eternity in mind.

Next week we will learn to: