57 Luke 16.1-14
A Bad Man’s Good Example
v For some reason, pigs and money go together
Ø As in piggy-bank
Ø As in "Bring home the bacon”
Ø As in “living high on the hog”
Ø The old proverb, “You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear”
Ø And the saying, “Pork meets penny”
§ Even the term for what we are to be traces back to the medieval English STEWARD = "STY-WARD."
· Yep, a pig-keeper
v Parable of the shrewd manager or “Steward”
Ø A person that was entrusted with the master’s wealth / money
§ And through Jesus we see this bad man’s good example
READ Luke 16:1-14
v Traditionally one of the most difficult parables to understand
Ø Has a poor moral compass
§ Everywhere you look there are bad or immoral examples
· Steward cheating the master
¨ Embezzling from master
¨ Usury toward the debtors
· The debtors accepting the bribes from the steward
¨ More than happy not to pay the full rent
· And the master seemingly applauds the steward’s dishonesty
¨ READ V. 8a
Ø This is perhaps the most difficult verse to understand
§ But this verse actually holds the first of our 4 principles of Stewardship
· As a Christian…Be clever
¨ More to the point…
v V. 8 ~ Be Shrewd
Ø And on first glance it seems that Jesus is commending the steward’s actions
§ However, as T. W. Manson points out…
· There is a world of difference between
¨ “Applauding the dishonest steward because he acted cleverly”
¨ “Applauding the clever steward because he acted dishonestly”
Ø In other words…
§ Jesus is applauding his cleverness not his dishonesty?
· READ 8B
Ø The word translated “Shrewd” = GK phronimos
§ Louw & Nida, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament
· Understanding resulting from insight and wisdom
¨ Other versions translate it
Ø The steward acted Prudently, Wisely
Ø But we have a negative impression of the word Shrewd
§ If you call someone a shrewd businessman
· Its kind of a backhanded compliment
¨ It means that they are so focused on their goal…
Ø So focused on success that sometimes they hurt some people along the way
Ø That is the kind of Christian that Jesus wants…SHREWD, FOCUSED
§ Now Jesus does not want us to act unloving with people
· But he does want us to be Focused, Shrewd Christianians
Ø Before sending his 12 disciples out, Jesus prepared them saying
§ Matt 10:16
· I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd (phronimos) as snakes and as innocent as doves.
Ø Jesus wants shrewd followers
§ Commenting on this passage William Barkclay writes…
· “If only Christians were as eager and ingenious in our attempts to do good as the man of the world is in his attempts to attain money and comfort.”
¨ Does that hit a soft spot?
· I think this passage is asking us a challenging question…
¨ Am I approaching my faith walk shrewdly?
¨ Am I ingenious in my attempts to do the good?
¨ Do I pour my creative juices into my attempts to do the Lord’s work?
¨ Do I labor over my attempts to do the Lord’s work?
¨ Do I make painstakingly sure that the work I do for the Lord is the best of the best?
§ When I would put together a powerpoint presentation in my secular career
· I labored over it
¨ Describe here
Ø Do we do that with the Lord’s work?
§ William Barkclay continues in his commentary, and I will conclude with this…
· “If only people would give as much attention to the things concerning their souls as the things that concern their business. People will expend 20 times the amount of time and energy on their pleasures, hobbies, garden, sports as they do on their church.”
2nd principle found in verse 9…
v V. 9 ~ Be Strategic
Ø As Ken Hughes states…
§ It is inescapably clear here that our wealth and possessions are to be used to win eternal friends
· Not in the Dale Carnegie sense
¨ “How to win friends and influence people”
· But in the true sense of “winning friends for Christ”
¨ Allow your wealth and possessions to be used in subservience to the Gospel
Ø Use your Wealth for the Kingdom
Ø Now most of us automatically default in our minds to giving money
§ And that is all well and good and appropriate
· But I think it goes beyond that, don’t you?
¨ There is a funny thing about giving money…
Ø It can become so sanitized, so insulating
§ Write down your pledge to missions and forget about it
§ When people ask, you are doing your “part”
Ø But that word “part” is the problem
§ Jesus doesn’t want just “part” of anything
· He demands the whole thing
¨ He wants your whole heart
¨ He wants your whole life (Rom 12:1)
¨ He wants all of your resources
Ø But that is a tough thing for us to hear…even tougher to do!
§ We hang on to our “things”
· We cling to them like they will do something for us
¨ When in actuality the only service that your “things” can do for you is facilitate winning friends for Christ
Ø Use your homes in hospitality for others
Ø Give up a room in your house for visiting missionaries
Ø Take a meal over to someone in need
Ø Allow your car to be borrowed
Ø Lend a tool to a neighbor
Ø My visits to Sonogee have given me great perspective
§ All the things that we hold so dear now
§ All the things that we cling to and protect today…
· Our homes, our cars, our whatever
¨ Eventually their importance fades away
Ø And one all day our most precious things will fit in a hospital drawer
§ So why not use them now for eternal purposes
The third principle Jesus teaches us in this parable is found in verses 10-12…
Ø V. 10-12 ~ Be a Steward / Stewardess
According to a January 15, 1989 article in the Lexington Herald-Leader, the family living in a home in West Palm Beach, Florida, told a film crew it was okay to use the front lawn as a set for an episode of the "B.L. Stryker" television series with the understanding that cars would be crashing violently in front of the house and damage would occur.
While the front yard was being blown up, a man called from New York demanding to know what was happening to his house. It seems the people who were living in the West Palm Beach house were only tenants and had no right to allow the property to be destroyed.
Ø Most of us live our lives this way
§ Most live our lives under the mistaken impression that our lives and everything in them belong to us
· What these verses tell us is that everything you have has been entrusted to you
¨ You are simply a steward of all the resources at your disposal
If you have ever been on a ship, you know what a ship’s steward is. Every time you travel on an airplane, who is there…The steward and stewardesses. These people do not own the ship or the plane or anything on it. The company owns everything, but he or she is entrusted with its care.
The steward has been given the responsibility to take the goods that belong to a higher authority and dispense it to the people for their benefit. That is a steward. That is us!
Ø This Life is all about Stewardship
§ These verses spell out a pretyy scary principle…
· How responsible we are with the things we have been given in this world effects our level of responsibility God gives us in the next
¨ Our stewardship in this life is important!
Ø And we are stewards in 4 areas…
§ We are Stewards of our Money
· We have already covered this topic at some length today
¨ And some of you may be saying in your mind…
Ø How many times is he going to tell us that our money is not our own
Ø How many times is he going to mention money
Ø Does he have to bring that subject up again?
Ø Can’t he just leave it alone
Ø Blake is sure pushing pretty hard in this area
§ Well let me tell you something…
When you go to a doctor for your annual check-up, he will often begin to poke, prod, and press various places, all the while asking, "Does this hurt? How about this?" If you cry out in pain, one of two things has happened.
Either the doctor has pushed too hard, without the right sensitivity.
Or, more likely, there's something wrong, and the doctor will say, "We'd better do some more tests. It's not supposed to hurt there!"
So it is when I preach on financial responsibility. If you cry out in discomfort, there is one of two reasons. Either I have pushed too hard, or perhaps there's something wrong. In the case of the later, I say to you, "Get the Great Physician because it's not supposed to hurt there."
Ø However, stewardship goes well beyond money
§ We are Stewards of our Time
· Story of John at 4C meeting
¨ Gave up 3 days getting the sound system ready for the meeting!
§ We are Stewards of our Gifts and Abilities
· Matt 25:14-30 ~ Parable of the Talents
¨ 5, 2 and 1
Ø 1 = wicked, lazy servant
· The thief says, “What’s yours is mine—I’ll take it!”
· The selfish man says, “What’s mine is mine—I’ll keep it!”
· But the Christian must say, “What’s mine is a gift from God—I’ll share it!”
¨ So it should be with your gifts and talents
Ø Share them!
Ø And most importantly…
§ We are Stewards of the Gospel
· 2 Cor 4:6-7
¨ For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
· Are we to keep the Gospel to ourselves?
The last principle Jesus teaches us here is found in verse 13…
Ø V. 13 ~ Be Devoted
Ø Movie: “They Live”
§ John Carpenter
· Aliens living among us have lulled humanity into submission
¨ Through subconscious messages on billboards, TV, Newspapers
· Small rebel force know the secret
¨ Produce sunglasses that you can see the aliens and their messages
Ø "Stay Asleep", "No Imagination", "Submit to Authority"
§ Interestingly enough…
· Message on money is…
Ø Only one Master
§ “You cannot serve both God and money”
Clare Boothe Luce was once the US ambassador to Italy. While she was living in a beautiful 17th-century Italian villa, she began to notice that she was always tired. She lost weight, and seemed to have less and less energy.
She sought medical care, and after a period of intense testing it was discovered that she was suffering from arsenic poisoning.
Everyone on her staff was given a security check, but it was soon established that none of her staff was trying to poison her. Which left the question: Where was the poisoning coming from?
Finally, they found the cause: It was the ceiling of the bedroom. There were beautiful designs of roses, ornately done in plaster relief, and they were painted with an old paint that contained arsenic lead. A fine dust fell from the roses, and Mrs. Luce was slowly being poisoned in her bed by the dust from the ornate roses.
Ø We have to watch out that we do not get poisoned too
§ The world puts eternal value of the things of this world
· And those values sound good and many times look beautiful
¨ Just like those roses on the ceiling of the villa
Ø The person with the most toys wins
Ø Look successful to the outside world
Ø Wealth brings happiness
Ø Look out for #1
Ø Measure your success in life by your bank account
§ But these are arsenic to the Christian
· 1 Tim 6:10
¨ Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs
Bill Phillippe in A Stewardship Scrapbook, writes “we are in danger of being poisoned by the ornate culture and society in which we live. Our attitudes, concepts, values, can be eroded or poisoned by the materialistic values of those around us without our ever becoming aware of it until it is too late.”
§ Jesus warns us here not to get poisoned by the world
· To be single-minded in our devotion
· 2 ladders illustration
v The Master
Ø In Palestine there were many absentee landlords
Ø It was not uncommon to receive payment in kind and not just money
§ So understandable that he would be owed wheat and olive oil
Ø Master was shady in that he was not shocked at what the steward had done
§ He actually praised him for his dishonest, self-centered action
v The Steward
Ø After a career of embezzlement and usury, he was caught
Ø Deciders to cheats his master in order to ingratiate himself to the debtors
v The Debtors
Ø All to ready to not live up to their rental agreement and lessen their debt
¨ We are to be alert, aware in all situations
§ Carrie pointing out the Hollywood political agenda at the end of Mission Impossible 3
§ 1 Cor 4:2
· Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful
§ Romans 14:2
· So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God