Text: Luke 16:1-15
13 No servant can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.”
14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
There are two ways in which a Christian may view his money--"How much of my money shall I use for God?" or "How much of God's money shall I use for myself?"
W. Graham Scroggie.
"Money often comes between men and God. Someone has said that if you take two small coins, and placed in the right position, you can shut out the view of a beautiful landscape.
The truth is, it doesn't take large quantities of money to come between you and God; just a little, placed in the wrong position, will effectively obscure the view.
But we must remember that money too has its limitations.
Money will buy a bed but not sleep; it will buy books but not brains; food but not an appetite; the finer things in life but not beauty, medicines but not health, luxury but not culture, amusement but not happiness … a crucifix … but not a Savior, and even a place of worship but not Heaven.
(Ps. 49. 6-8; Eccles. 5. 12)
In our lesson today, Jesus brings to the ears of the disciples, and all his followers, a parable or story which illustrates serving God and money.
The previous parables, from the weeks leading up to this, had been directed to the Pharisees, teachers of the law and the scribes, and now the disciples too.
How do you deal with a bad manager? Especially one, who has not been looking out for the owner’s best interest?
2 And [the owner] called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’
It is not an uncommon situation for many who serve in positions of responsibility. As Pastor’s we call called stewards of the mysteries of God. We are called to faithfully divide the word of truth, and to administer God’s sacraments rightly.
As managers, in companies, you manage someone else’s money and possessions and you have a responsibility to deal in a favorable way with it … or as the parable says … be replaced.
Or, as my brother-n-law Mark has said in speaking of a co-worker:
“He would make a great manager, if under constant supervision.”
So in the Gospel lesson much conniving and cooking of the books ensue.
Managers at time try to figure out a solution.
4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may [still think well of me] receive me into their houses.’
For managers and for us all, self preservation is a strong motivator.
5 …, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 … ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ … sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 … ‘And how much do you owe?’ …, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’
The object for the manager was to do damage control. With this scheme the shortage would disappear, or the income would look to be much smaller than the owner thought. And if he is found out, the customers would still think well of him.
It has even been suggested that the manager had falsified the amounts in the original billings and pocketed the surplus.
Certainly this is not out of the realm of possibilities.
Popular Commentary on the Bible P.E. Kretzmann Pg. 354
At a meeting many years ago it was made known that a co-worker had defrauded the company. He had sold instruments for the company but sold the trade-ins for his own profit. The company was unaware of the trades as the manager’s paperwork showed only a cash transaction with no trade in information.
The manager personally picked the trade in instruments and sold them out of his garage – to other customers - so the company lost the profit on the trades and future company business.
Interestingly, my boss’ son who mediated the affair and meeting had compassion on the worker and allowed him to remain with the company though under supervision of another as he had a wife and two small children.
Faced with a crisis many are clever though dishonest in solving problems.
Even the master in our lesson, when he received information concerning this latest trick of the manager, could not withhold a certain amount of praise. He praised him, not on account of his unfaithfulness and his fraud, but on account of the cleverness in handling the situation and getting himself out of a very unpleasant predicament.
Popular Commentary on the Bible P.E. Kretzmann Pg. 354
All of life has consequences, some that are good and some that are bad but again:
The Lord has given true riches through faith in Him!
There was a saying that my boss told me many years ago. It was said about those who had paper wealth by speculating in internet stocks.
“Money easily gotten is money easily lost.”
Some years ago there was a book on the market called Rich Dad, Poor Dad and it was written by a man, Robert Kiyosaki, who had learned the secrets of making money in real estate from his friend’s dad, verses the things he learned from his own dad who went to work and lived a very common and boring middle class existence.
Fast forward to August of 2012 and Rich Global LLC is bankrupt owing 24 million to one investor, though Kiyosaki remains quite wealthy through some shrewd and questionable practices.
10 “One who is faithful in little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in little is also dishonest in much.
Now, the world makes provision for the future, that is, they look to put themselves and their families beyond care, as soon as possible, it is the focus of their life and they make use of every possible advantage through: retirement investments, pensions, savings, homes and 401Ks to name a few.
God’s children, on the other hand, often are anything but energetic and diligent in the things that pertain to God and His kingdom.
They forget that death is real and the end is coming - Sometimes much sooner than we’ve planned and all will have to give an account to the Lord in regard to their business transactions for Him – in this life.
Jesus here admonishes them that they should so conduct their lives, and the money entrusted to them and as Christians should use their money in the interest of the kingdom of God, in establishing and extending the Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
So that in this way the poor and those outside the Christian faith, receive the benefit of such investments, from God through his children.
12 [But] if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.”
For the Christian ethics is important.
As a manager myself in business I had the owner’s trust. Having keys for three stores I would leave my home in Waterford, stop at his store on Dixie Hwy. and pick up the bank deposit and then go to the Bloomfield Hills store dropping off the money and paperwork for Waterford, and the Plymouth Store that I managed. Each day I handled the business and cash for at least two stores.
One day I helped my co-worker Alan sell a guitar. At times the drivers delivering and picking up pianos picked up the paper work and cash as well returning it to the office. When it came time for commissions to be paid, Alan didn’t have the guitar sale I helped him with on his paperwork. I looked everywhere and called all the stores and my boss. It was nowhere to be found. The guitar was listed in inventory and there was no sale. It was like it vanished.
I felt terrible. I for one had responsibility for my worker at Plymouth – to see that he got paid for what he sold and to my owner to see that he received the money he had coming. It was nowhere to be found.
After much searching though and talks we all decided to move on my boss told me “Russ it is not that I don’t value the guitar sale but we have to get back to doing business.” It was baffling … but we had business to do.
Over a year later, I had some dead time at the store and decided to clean my desk. Also my briefcase was full of old and outdated paperwork and contracts. As I got rid of that I noticed what looked to be a dollar at the bottom back of the briefcase. As I reached for it I was surprised to pull out six one hundred dollar bills and the contract for one guitar sale for Alan.
I called my boss, “Ben, do you remember that deal on the lost guitar over a year ago?” “Yes”, he said. Well, it was in my briefcase and it will be in the bank today! He said thanks and hung up. He didn’t sound real happy while I was ecstatic.
I talked to his son Jim later that day. “Did you hear about the lost guitar?” I asked. “Yes I did great news!” he said, “Your dad didn’t seem too excited.” “Well, he was mad … said you need to be more careful in dealing with these things and not so careless with the companies money.” I told him, “Dad … be thankful, you have an honest employee. That is worth so much more than $600.”
It might explain why when Jim bought the company from his dad some years later why he asked me to be a signer on the checkbook and to pay the bills in his absence.
Money in this life is needed but a wise old pastor once said:
“The only money that truly matters to God is money that is used in service to Him and His Kingdom.”
And the true blessing and gift that God gives you and me is faith in His son.
He has given us life through the death of His son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to live suffer and die and rise again for you and for me. This bears fruit in service to our neighbor, not by works of righteousness that we do, but by true joy in Jesus Christ our Lord.
We can joy in the faith we are given as children of God knowing that all falls under His control and that he uses you and me as his hands and feet in the world to reach the lost with the comfort of the Gospel message.
You are rich and truly bless because God has given you riches in Him and they will surpass and far exceed those promised by the world.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.