Balancing Your Resources
“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now?” vs. 3
A Belt of Gold
There once was a man who went on an ocean voyage carrying a large bag of gold coins. The bag represented his entire net worth. He had sold his house, sold all his things, cashed out all his accounts and CD’s and converted them all to gold and was headed off to start a new life. A terrible storm came up in the middle of the ocean, it was hopeless, the boat was going down so the captain did the only thing he could, he called to abandon ship. But there were only so many life boats that were now all full. The man strapped the gold to his waist belt, jumped overboard, and sank to the bottom of the sea. How would you answer this philosophical question… “As he was sinking, did he have the gold? Or did the gold have him?” (Wait for responses) Ask congregation to stand as the Scripture is read.
Read passage – Luke 16:1-15
Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg—4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’6 “‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’ 7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ 8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 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. 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “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.”
14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.
In our story today there is a man who manages a business. His biggest issue was that he wasn’t very good at his job. Verse 1 tells us:
“Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.” vs. 1
So he has wasted the possessions of the owner and now he is getting called on the carpet for it. Interestingly enough, when it says that this man was accused of wasting his masters possessions it is the same term used of the prodigal son when he went off and squander his inheritance that is told in the story in chapter 15 just before this one.
Let’s Make A Deal
His predicament is that he realizes that he really can’t do the manual labor. Verse 3:
“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg…” vs. 3
He got himself into a bad situation. He knows he can’t work and yet he’s messed up the manager’s job he has and he facing being without a job. But he’s not dumb. He thinks about it and comes up with a plan. It’s basically Let’s Make a Deal. He comes up with a plan to go to each person that owes his boss money, bargains with them to reduce their bill, and collects the money for his boss all while trying to gain some support and influence with them so when he is out of a job he has some people who will help him out. There are two ways that he could have done this.
1. He went behind his owners back and settle the accounts
2. He reduced the bills and just cut out his own profit.
In this time is was common for an owner to hire a manger and the manager was responsible for his own salary. So if this person owed his boss 500 gallons of olive oil, he would charge the guy 800 and keep the rest for himself. Therefore, when he went to collect he was only cutting his own profit. But then listen to this verse:
“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. “ vs. 8
Huh? Here’s what I think is going on. Many times we as Christians, (or in their time those who follow God) aren’t quite as shrewd business wise as those of the world. Think about it, until recently, we haven’t really had many Christian people or organizations who are as smart financially and business wise; but that is changing. We now have people like Ron Bleu, Crown Ministries, etc. We now have more people who are trained and are smarter with finances. Those who don’t know God the way we do think we can’t handle our finances, we don’t have an abundance because we have to tithe, we don’t seem to just have as much as others. In some ways we just don’t seem as astute tot them.
Lessons From A Shrewd Man
Did you know that one out of every six verses in Matthew, Mark and Luke deal with either money or material possessions. Over ½ of the parables Jesus told are about these same this topics. There are over 1000 references in the bible to money. This makes it the 2nd most popular subject in scripture.
So we need to pay attention (get it “pay” attention”) to Jesus’ words and understand why it is so important to handle our resources in the proper way. Let’s look at this story a bit close and learn some things from this “shrewd manager.”
1. We Are Managers, Not Owners
The first clue is in verse 1:
“There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.“ vs. 1
Notice it identifies two people. In the Bible, sometimes we take things literally and sometimes we have to understand them figuratively too. In our story, the rich man is figuratively God and we are the manager. So when it comes to our resources, whether they be money, cars, houses, talents, etc. we have to decide how we view them. So we vie them as ours? Or are we the managers of them? The story implies we are managers. Managers aer people who control things for someone else. So let me challenge you a bit here. How you you look at the things you “own?” or have? You can take that astep further as well by looking again at verse 2:
“So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.” vs. 2
If we take the attitude that we are managers, then we understand that we will have to give an account for how we handle those resources. Let’s put this into perspective this way by me challenging you with another question:
What will you take with you when you die?
It’s an obvious answer, nothing. We either give it to others like our kids and family or in many cases, it goes to the government or to people we don’t even know like lawyers. We take care of the things we have but they aren’t always ours.
Ex. Our house in RWC. We loved it took care of it, people cam by and told us how cute it was, asked us about our plants, etc. We moved and now you can’t even see our house the weeds are so high. It’s a mess. But it isn’t ours anymore. We managed it for a while.
2. Plan Ahead
A second lesson we learn from this manager is the necessity of planning ahead. Verse 3:
“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now?” vs. 3
It’s great to enjoy our resources. But that shouldn’t stop us from planning ahead, in fact, it dictates that we should plan ahead. This guy the good life. He had a good job, he made good money, he seemed to have it going on well. But when the crisis came, he didn’t have much to go forward with. Proverbs 20:4 says:
“A farmer too lazy to plant in the spring has nothing to harvest in the fall.” Prov. 20:4 (TM)
That is a great word picture for us to help us understand the need to plan ahead. So let’s put this into practical terms. If you have something, a car, a house, a whatever, most of those things take some amount of maintenance. If you don’t plan ahead, one day your car will need tires, brakes, etc. and if you are living check to check. It will be a difficulty when it comes. Most financial experts will tell you to put 10% of your income aside to maintenance and rainy days.
Ill. But let’s be more practical. Say you only put $20 bucks a month aside. You would have $250 in a year. That may not sound like a lot but it will do something. I am planning for something right now that I know when it comes up in 3 years I won’t have the money for so I am putting $10 aside every month and in 3 years I will have almost $400 and that will cover it.
3. The Gift of Generosity
The third lesson we learn is the gift of generosity. This verse may sound confusing but hear me out on this. 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.” vs. 9
As I said, hear me out. I know you can’t buy friends. But you can be generous. And your generosity can win the hearts of others over so that when you need help, they may be more inclined to help you
Ex. You help a friend move and when you move they just might help you. You help someone pain their house and they just may help you paint you house when the time comes. Now I am not saying this will be the case every time. But chances are you will. Proverbs 22:9 says:
“A generous man will himself be blessed…” Prov. 22:9
Being generous does not always mean money. It can mean effort, time, energy, etc.
Ex. Our church bldg.
4. Building Character
And finally, fourth, when we are responsible with our resources, we are actually building our character. Jesus follows up this story of the shrewd manage with this point in verse 10:
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” vs. 10
So let me summarize what he is saying here by putting it in a little more modern terms. The small things matter and when we handle those properly, we can be trusted with more. A lot of times we think the little things don’t matter that much. But those little things are character builders. We use this principle all the time. We use it in business, we use it with our kids, etc. It’s a building process and there is a verse in Romans that helps confirm this. Romans 5:3-4:
“We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3b-4
Who You Gonna Serve?
There is one final thing to take note of and it’s an example that Jesus gives us from his own day. It comes from verse 13:
“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.” vs. 13
Basically Jesus is saying you can’t have it both ways. You have to choose who you are going to serve. If it’s God, put your money in the right perspective and use it wisely. If it’s money, god for it but don’t fool yourself and think you can do both. And in verse 15 he tells us why:
“What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” Vs. 5
God doesn’t see things the way we do or I should say we don’t see things the way God does. We look at things and oogle over them, are impressed by them, and value them. It’s hard to believe but when God sees them, they become detestable to Him; mainly because those things take us away from him.
Ex. When we traded in our Honda for a BMW. She drove it to my work and people were so impressed, with her too! She was the same woman but now they were looking at her differently.