Faithlife Sermons

The Opportunity of Stewardship

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I don’t know if you recognize him, but you are looking at Kyle McDonald. Though he may not look like it in this picture, you’re looking at a great steward. It all started with this (SHOW PAPERCLIP): One red paperclip. Kyle used it to start a series of trades which he hoped would end in him trading for a house.

How did it turn out? Well, on July 14, 2005, he went to Vancouver and traded the paperclip for a fish-shaped pen. The pen was traded the same day for a hand-sculpted doorknob from Seattle. On July 25, he went to Amherst Mass and traded the doorknob for a Coleman camp stove (with fuel). On Sep 24, he went to San Clemente, Ca. Where he traded the camp stove for a Honda Generator. On November 16 he traded the generator for an “instant party”: an empty keg, an IOU for filling the keg wiht the beer or the holder’s choice, and a neon Budweiser sign. On Dec 8, he traded the “instant party” for a Ski-doo Snowmobile. Then he traded the snowmobile for a two person trip to Yahk, British Columbia in Feb of 2006. A little before that, on Jan 7, ‘06, the second person on the Yahk trip gave him a cube van fo rhe privilege which he traded on Feb 22 for a recording contract with Metal Works in Toronto. On April 11, he traded the recording contract to Jody Gnant for a year’s rent in Phoenix. On May 26, he traded the year’s rent for one afternoon with Alice Cooper (though I can’t imagine why), then traded afternoon with Alice Cooper for a KISS motorized snow globe. On June 2, he traded the snow globe to Corbin Bernsen for a role in the film Donna on Demand. Then on July 5, less than one year from his first trade of the paper clip, he traded the movie role for a two-story farmhouse in Kipling, Saskatchewan. Not bad stewardship of his paperclip, huh?

I’m afraid that my management often slips in the other direction. I tend to end up, not with more than I started, but with much less. I don’t think I am sometimes a very good resource manager. I’m more like the guy Luke 16 talks about.

He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.

Alright, I’m feeling convicted already because I know that my management often doesn’t measure up. And the reason I feel convicted is because of what happens next in this story. Jesus continues

So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’

Uh-oh. He’s been called on the carpet. His mismanagement finally caught up with him. The check has bounced. The bank has called and the overdraft charges are coming due. What’s more, the boss knows what is happening and is telling him, he’s about to be fired. What does this steward do? Watch:

3 “Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’

5 “So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.

Hey, this money manager has been lazy, irresponsible, perhaps even dishonest. He has blown through his master’s money like it belong to him. When verse 1 says he was wasting his master’s goods the idea is that he was being reckless and uncaring, so the Master says. “Get all the books together. Bring all the receipts. I’m going to sit down and just see what you’ve been doing, then I’m going to fire you and cut you loose.

Well how would you feel? Probably a lot like this guy. He begins to be afraid. You see, in that culture, the position that he had was a highly prized job. He had access to his master’s wealth and his importance gave him cultural respect. He looks around thinking, “What am I going to do? I’m about to lose my job. I’m too old to dig ditches. I’m too proud to go around and beg people for food, especially people who have had to look up to me. What am I going to do?”


Can you relate to this guy? Maybe today you’re in a place where you’re looking over your shoulder. You’re in a bad financial mess. You could have scraped by, even though you haven’t made the wisest financial decisions, if the economy had stayed strong. But it didn’t. It’s in the tank and now your poor stewardship is catching up with you. If only you’d made better decisions, but now you need the money you blew and it just isn’t happening.

Maybe your poor stewardship has been revealed in the eternal investments you’ve neglected. You should have been tithing over your Christian life, but you haven’t been. You’ve not been giving to God, and you don’t even think you can start now. You’re in such a financial mess that you are dreading the day when your eternal Master taps you on the shoulder and says, “It’s time to come home, and when you get here, we need to sit down with your books and all your receipts and see how you managed my money.”

Maybe you’re here because you lost your job through no fault of your own and now you face an uncertain future.

Whatever the situation, there’s one thing you know: Your stewardship must change.


Well, the good news is that it can, indeed change. This steward’s surely did. Notice what he does in v 5

5 “So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.

This guys plan is to open his own discount pricing store. His first customer owes 100 measures of oil. According to my study 100 measures of oil equated to 875 gallons, or the yield of nearly 150 olive trees. This would have equalled about 3 years wages.

The second customer owed 100 measures of wheat. This was 1100 bushels or the yield of about 100 acres of grain. This would have equalled 8-10 years of salary. Hey, that was a real bargain and I’m sure the guys who received all that were grateful.

Which was the point. That was the plan. This steward hoped that, by being so kind to his customers, that when he was kicked outon the street by his Master, the people he helped would turn around and help him.

Now, I know what some might be thinking. “Wow, he was awfully generous with his Master’s goods? He sounds more like a thief than a manager! Wasn’t he being dishonest? And isn’t Jesus, by using him as an example, telling us to rip off our employers?” Well, no, I don’t think so. Some scholars say that this steward was simply giving up what would have been his commission on the sale. In other words, he was sacrificing what would have belonged to him now in order to help himself in the future. I think you see this in the Master’s reaction. He congratulates the servant on his approach. Look at verse 8

So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.

One commentator explained what is going on in this story like this:

Jesus is saying that God’s children, who have a heavenly future, should be as diligent in assessing the long-term effect of their actions as those who do not know God are in protecting their earthly well-being (1 Cor. 15:58 is similar in tone, as are the other parables of the “prudent”). Christians should apply themselves to honor and serve God in their actions as much as secular people apply themselves to obtain protection and prosperity from money and the world.

The thing I love the most about this parable is what happens to the unfaithful steward himself. He changes! Before he was reckless, now he’s concerned; before he was foolish, now he’s wise; before he was sloppy, now he’s careful. And what can we learn from this hapless steward? Well, at least a coupld of things:

For one thing, we can learn that a change in your money management often grows out of a crisis. It took the loss of his job to wake this guy up. Isn’t that the way it is with you and me? Pain teaches us many lessons we otherwise avoid. Experience may not be the best teacher, but it is certainly a thorough one!

But the second thing we can learn about money management is this: CHANGE IS POSSIBLE! You may be at the end of your rope this morning. You may be wondering if you’re going to make it and if there is any hope for you. I want you to know that Jesus story teaches you that you can change! Your situation can improve. You can change, but that change requires a couple of realizations on your part. What are they? Well, this parable describes 2 realizations necessary to real change in your stewardship. The first one is this: If you are to change your stewardship, you must realize that



Jesus’ commentary on this whole story begins in v 9. He says there: And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, . . .that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.

His commentary speaks to the present and to the future. In the present he says, “Use unrighteous mammon (another word for money . . . Use money) to “make friends for yourselves”. In other words, the money that you have been given is not a toy for you play with. It isn’t your personal possession to spend in order to get nice things for yourself. It has a specific purpose. You are to invest it in the lives of others. While the world’s version of shrewdness may be to use wealth to get things for themselves, God’s version of shrewdness is to use our possessions to be generous. That is what we are to do with our wealth in the present: Use it as an investment tool in the lives of others.

But Jesus commentary also speaks to the future. Notice it again: He says, And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. Did you notice the benefit for you? It says that you use money as a tool now by investing in others so that (watch!) “They may receive you into an everlasting home” The “they” in this verse, according to my study, is a euphemism for God Himself. Who else could receive you into an everlasting home but God. The idea is this: My investment now is a tool to be used to bring eternal benefit later. Money is not a toy, it’s a tool!


Nothing illustrates the “toy” mentality better than the attitude in the 1980's. Back then, Babyboomers with too much bling were called “yuppies.” Here’s their attitude captured in this bed time prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep.

I pray my Cuisinart to keep.

I pray my stocks are on the rise,

and that my analyst is wise,

that the perrier I sip is light

and that my hot tub’s watertight,

that racquetball won’t get too tough,

that all my sushi’s fresh enough.

I pray my cordless phone still works,

that my career won’t lose its perks,

my microwave won’t radiate,

my condo won’t depreciate.

I pray my health club doesn’t close

and that my money market grows.

If I go broke before I wake,

I pray my beamer they don’t take.

The title of that poem could be “Toy’s.” That personified the yuppie attitutude: “Let me get all the play things my salary will buy. That is not the biblical attitude. The Bible teaches us that money’s not a toy, it’s a tool. That truth is illustrated in this story:

Author Tony Campolo tells how he disembarked from a plane only to discover he was scheduled to speak to a group of women at a World Day of Prayer event he had forgotten about. He rushed over to the meeting—held at a large, wealthy church—and arrived exhausted, not knowing what to say to the women gathered for the conference. Before calling him to speak, the leader of the meeting produced a letter from a missionary in Venezuela. Campolo relates:

She read this letter from this missionary who had a hospital, and they needed $5,000 desperately to put an extension on the hospital because they couldn't handle all the patients. She turned to me, and she said, "Reverend, would you please lead us in prayer that the Lord would provide for our sister in Venezuela?" And I said, "No!" She was taken back by that. I stood up, and I said, "I'll tell you what I will do"—and it was a good day to pull it off because I was only carrying $2.25—I pulled out my wallet, and I pulled out the two dollars and a quarter, and I slapped it down on the pulpit and I said, "That 's all the money I'm carrying. Madame Chairman, I want you to put all the cash you're carrying on the pulpit." And there were about 1,000 women in this group. I said, "I'm going to ask each of you to do the same. No checks. Just the cash you're carrying. Bring it up. Lay it on the altar. We'll count up the money, and if we don't have enough, I will ask God to write out a check for the difference." The woman took out $110 of unadulterated cash and put it with my $2.25. A hundred and ten dollars in cash! Why didn't I marry somebody like that? I said, "We're on our way; we've got $112.25." I said, "You're next," and I pointed to a woman on the front row. She looked around. I said, "I'm serious. Come up here and put your money on the altar." You see, I come from a black church, and you know that's the way you take up an offering, you see. And she sheepishly came up and put her money on it, and I said, "Okay let's line up and do it one by one." And they did it! Money kept on piling up and piling up and piling up. When it was all over, we counted the cash. And we had over $7,000, instead of the five that was being required! And I know we didn't get it all because I could see women giving me dirty looks as they walked by.

You see, we fail to realize the powerful tool that is resting in our pocketbooks and in our wallets. It’s not there for us to play with. It isn’t a toy, it’s a tool.


So what’s your money to you, Christian. Do you use it for God’s glory or does it use you for your own pleasure. To you play around with what doesn’t even belong to you, or do you use God’s gifts as a tool to accomplish His will. Just stop for a minute and think about just the latest toys you bought. (By the way, a toy is anything you purchase that you really don’t need to survive and to stay adequately clothed, live in a warm dry place and keep eating.) Think of those things for a moment and ask yourself this question: Is the amount I have spent on toys more than I have given to God in the last year? Is it equal to what I’ve given to God . . . Is it less? If what you have spent on toys more than what you’ve invested in ministry, how can you say that your money is a tool and not a toy.

And you know, it also applies to us as a church. I believe that every square foot we ever build here must be utilized to the fullest. We and especially I, as your pastor, do not have the time, money, or inclination to build just so that we can have more buildings to heat and maintain. If God should allow us to build the God’s Creation Station, I firmly believe that we should use it and wear it out. It is to be a place of outreach. We’ve even began to kick around some ideas of how we can use it, not just on Sunday, but throughout the week as well. Our buildings are not toys for our enjoyment they are tools for evangelism!

That’s the first principle of change. If you want to change your money managment, you can realize that money is not a toy, it’s a tool. But also you can realize that:



V 10 introduces this realization. When you read it, you see that our wealth is not a tresure to be hoarded, it’s a test to be passed. V 10 reads:

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.

Instead of trying to hang onto our money for our own security and comfort, we are to realize the test it places on us. It is a test of faithfulness. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Simply put, if I properly handle a quarter, I will also properly handle a quarter of a million. If I am not able to see the stewardship of managing 25 cents, I’ll not be able to see the stewardship in managing 250,000 dollars. In fact, the money that burns a hole in my pocket also tests the commitment of my heart. My faithfulness, or the lack of it extends to the smallest of things.

And this test of faithfulness also extends to the worldliest of things. You see, the real issue isn’t the money. That is made clear in vv 11-12. There it says:

Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?

See, I know some people might be thinking: “If it’s not to just get money for yourself or some unneeded building you want to build to make yourself look good, why are you making such a big deal over money. Money isn’t what matters, after all. It has no intrinsic spiritual value one way or another. What’s the big deal, Rusty?” V. 11 tells you. It says that if you have not been faithful with worldly wealth, the unrighteous mammon that really means so little; if you haven’t been faithful with that, who will trust you with truly important things . . . the “true things” of God. Simply put: Your money management is a test, a test which will determine what “true things” of God you will handle in eternity. It is a test of your faithfulness.


John Maxwell tells of his son, Joel Porter Maxwell. This, of course, happened some time ago now when his son was 14. He says that Joel got a job for the first time. You know, he worked hard and got that first paycheck. Now I don’t’ know if you remember your first official paycheck, but I do. I got it for my work in a gas station making 2 dollars and some change an hour. I was so proud.

That’s the way Joel was feeling. Gratified and proud. He brought it home and showed it to John, then he marched into the room where his mother was and said, “You know, I’ve thought it over and I’m not sure I can afford to tithe.” Isn’t that so much like us. He’s got more money in his hand that he’s ever had before and, all of a sudden he gets greedy, just like us. We say “I really need this money for something else.” We don’t see the impact of our decision upon our future. We don’t see that it is that decision that reflects that God’s not first in our lives. Hey, he’s not even second or even fifth. He’s way down on the list. We have been tested by our money and we have proven that we are not faithful.


But your money tests something else: It tests your love. We find a repetition of Matt 6:24 here. It says. No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” In the final analysis, this is the real test of money. It’s a test of love. If I love God, I give, if I say I love God and do not give, I Lie.


Now I know that’s blunt, but if you read that passage, I think you’ll have to admit that this is exactly what it says. I can say I love God all I want, but if I serve money by hoarding it for myself and wasting it on my toys, I am making a very clear choice. I am choosing to serve money and not God. You see, you have to be careful who you love!


Two men struck gold in the wilderness during the great Klondike Gold Rush. Each day they could hardly wait to get out of their bunks to continue their search for gold. They found more and more each day. They were so busy they didn’t noticed that summer had passed and that fall was upon them. They didn’t notice the chill in the air because they were so eager to get more and more of the glittering yellow gold. One morning they awoke to find themselves in the midst of a howling snowstorm that lasted four days. When it was over, they discovered they were snowbound. The winter months had come, and within a few weeks, their food supply was exhausted. Several years later, the prospectors’ cabin was discovered. All that remained of them were their skeletons. On a rough-hewn table, next to bags of gold, was found a note describing what had happened to them, of how they had not noticed that winter was coming, and they were caught unprepared.

Now you hear that story and say, “They were foolish! I’d never be so greedy that I’d sacrifice my life for gold.” O, but you sacrificing something much more important. You’re sacrificing your eternity. Those miners weren’t the first ones to flunk the money test.


So how are you doing with the test? Are you passing or failing? If you’re not sure, ask yourself a few questions.

1. Do you have a conscious awareness of what’s really important? Are you really aware that your money management is not a question of now, but then?

2. How are you managing God’s money? Are you adequately providing for your family’s well-being? I’m not talking about extravagance, just provision.

3. What are you planning to do with the money you leave behind? I believe every Christian should have a will and should make it their goal to leave a substantial part of their wealth to the work of God. After all, you don’t need the money anymore and if you give your kids everything, you may rob them of the joy of trusting God for themselves. Give it away!

4. Do you spend everything you make, or do you save? Are you so into toys that you’re so in debt that you don’t even think you can afford to tithe? If so, it’s time for change! You need to sign up today to take Financial Peace University.

5. Do you tithe? Do you give ten percent of your families total GROSS income to God?

6. Do you give above the tithe to help the needs of others?

7. When you get a raise, how do you allocate the extra money? Do you buy toys or do you use it for the kingdom? (Nothing wrong with having some good things, but they should be used sparingly and definitely directed by the Holy Spirit)

Your wealth is a test of faithfulness, not a treasure you hoard. How are you managing the treasure?


I want you to hear the story of our finance committee chairman. Chris came to Peace many years ago and when he first came he was not a tither. Listen to how God got ahold of his heart.

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