Handling Money Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Title: Handling Money
Text: “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13)
Bible Reading: Luke 16-1-13
Today’s lesson concerns money, and it is based on Luke 16:1-13, where Jesus gives His disciples and us the PARABLE OF THE UNJUST STEWARD. This parable has been greatly misunderstood, and one of the reasons is because it looks as though our Lord is commending a crook. This steward is an out-and-out crook. Some folk assume that anyone whom the Lord Jesus mentioned in a parable is a hero and an example of a decent person. But this man is a scoundrel.
In this parable, the Lord uses as an example a man who followed the principles of the world. We are told in the Word of God that the world loves its own but hates those who belong to God. Jesus said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:18-19) A child of God doesn’t belong to this world and doesn’t live by the principles of this world.
• In Galatians 1:3-4 Paul says, “…our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”
• Again in Romans 12:2 Paul says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
• Finally, in 1 John 2:15 it states, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Now, out in the world, there’s what we call the “law of life” and the unjust steward is a man who operates by that law. The first commandment of the world is “self-preservation”. A shady business deal is winked at, questionable practices tolerated, and a clever crook is highly praised by the world. The law is on the side of the crook and the criminal many times. Every man, according to the world’s law, is considered innocent until proven guilty. The Word of God takes the opposite approach. God says that man is guilty until proven innocent. He says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) There isn’t a man or woman around today that are innocent before God, but anyone certainly can become justified before Him. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1) When a man trusts Jesus Christ as his Savior, he is justified by faith. This is the only way a person can be justified.
THE FIRST PART OF THE LESSON IS--CONSIDER THE FUTURE (LUKE 16:1-4)
1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
This is the story of a rich man and his unjust steward. A steward is a man who is in charge of another man’s goods. Abraham had a steward, you remember, who had charge of all his possessions. It was Abraham’s steward who went on a trip to Haran to find a bride for Abraham’s son Isaac. David also had stewards, and they had charge of all the kings’ possessions, including his children.
Paul tells us, “Moreover it’s required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (1 Cor 4:2) The steward in this parable would correspond to the president of a corporation. He had charge of this rich man’s goods. No charge of immoral activity is made here; what he was guilty of was mismanagement and misappropriation of funds. He was like those in the Enron scandal who by fraudulent accounting practices stole millions. The unjust steward wasted the goods of his master.
The day of reckoning had come for this man. He had to give an account. Now, since he had the signet ring of his master and was the paymaster, instead of drawing up a financial statement, he decided to use the law of the world, which is self-preservation. But, the master held the manager accountable, and that reminds us that God will hold the world accountable. The basis for this final judgment is faith in Jesus Christ. That’s why we should act decisively and shrewdly now to prepare for a future accounting with God. This man must have had soft hands and he felt that he couldn’t be a common laborer. And he was ashamed to beg. It makes you smile when you read verse 3; the man may have been ashamed to beg, but he wasn’t ashamed to steal! Unfortunately, there are a lot of people like that today.
This man remains silent when the owner charges him with being guilty of mismanagement. He didn’t loudly declare his innocence. He must have been guilty as charged. He did not repent; he had no regret or remorse for his actions. This man was crooked; however, he would be called clever by the world’s standards.
He had no training for other work, and his age was probably against him. He was too proud to beg, but he wasn’t ashamed to be dishonest.
He thinks and thinks about what he should do.
All of a sudden we hear him saying, “I’ve got it! I know exactly how to feather my nest for the time when I will be out of a job.” His last minute plan would cause his master’s debtors to provide financial support for him in the future, that is, that they would feel the need to help him. (For what future needs do you need to make financial preparation)
VERSES 5-9 SHOW THE NEED TO—MAKE WISE DECISIONS (LUKE 16:5-9)
5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
The manager began putting his plan into action by summoning each of his master’s debtors so he could reduce their debt. This long-term plan was designed to have people indebted to him when he needed them. The steward was asking, “How much do you owe my master?” The first man owed his master 100 barrels of oil. “Well”, the steward said, “Oil is about one hundred dollars a barrel now. I’ll tell you what we will do. We will let you have it for fifty dollars a barrel.” This man only had to pay half of what he owed. I don’t know why he didn’t give the second man the same discount he gave the other fellow, but this man had to pay eighty cents on the dollar. The unjust steward is just a crook.
Now, there’s a shocking statement in verse 8, “And the lord commended the unjust steward…” Who made it? The lord of the steward, meaning his employer, the rich man. Apparently, this man got rich using the same type of principles that this unjust steward used. He tells him he has done wisely. In what way? According to the principles of the world. This is the world that hates Christ. It makes its own rules.
The law of the world is “dog eat dog.” The worldly lord commended his worldly steward for his worldly wisdom according to his worldly dealings.
Someone may ask, “But why did his master praise him? The owner praised him not because he was so crooked but because he had planned ahead. And, by telling the parable, Jesus is showing that He agrees that looking ahead is the thing to do. When in spite of ever so many precautions and burglar alarms a bank is robbed, and the newspapers describe how it was done, people will remark, “How clever!” But this doesn’t mean that they are recommending the burglars for a “Distinguished Service Medal.”
I wish that all true believers were as clever in spiritual matters as are crooks in plying their trade. The Lord Jesus said, “For the children of this world their generation is wiser than the children of light.” That is, the children of this world, of this time in history, use their money more wisely than do the children of light.
The most startling statement of all concerns the relationship of the believer to the “mammon of unrighteousness.” It is riches, money. Money is not evil in itself; money doesn’t have morals at all, either good or bad. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil.
For believers, money is to be spiritual. Our Lord said that we should lay up treasures in heaven. We should be wise in the way we use our money. Then when we “fail” or come to the end of life, we will be welcomed into heaven. (How do you use your money for kingdom purposes?)