Faithlife Sermons

Pursuing True Riches

Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 2 views
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

The riches that we pursue must be those that cause God to be pleased.

The Parable of the Unrighteous Steward (1-8)

The unrighteous steward has a problem (1-2)

Luke 16:1–2 NASB95
Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. “And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’
verse 1
Diaballō (reported) is related to the noun diabolos, which means “slanderer,” or “accuser,” and is the word translated “devil.” Diaballō means “to accuse” or “bring charges” with a hostile intent.
The accusation eventually reached the rich man that his manager was squandering (the same word used in 15:13 to describe the younger son’s wasting his share of the estate) his possessions.
He is wasting the owner’s possessions. Διασκορπίζω (diaskorpizō) here means “to disperse resources” (BAGD 188; BAA 378; Michel, TDNT 7:422; cf. ; ; esp. )
verse 2
“What is this I hear?” (τί τοῦτο ἀκούω, ti touto akouō, suggests that the charge is believed; ; ; ; esp. ; BDF §299.1; Fitzmyer 1985: 1100; Marshall 1978: 617).
He also asks for an inventory (λόγος, logos; BAGD 478 §2a; BAA 971 §2a; ; ; ; ) of the servant’s stewardship so he can verify the charges. The master does not seem to anticipate that the records will exonerate but confirm the charges, since he dismisses the steward. Interestingly, the request for the prepared inventory implies that the steward kept good records of his activity. Thus the problem may involve monetary mismanagement more than outright immorality.

The unrighteous steward has a plan (3-7)

Luke 16:3–7 NASB95
“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. ‘I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’ “And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ “And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ “Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’
Luke 16:
Verse 3
The manager is faced with two unpleasant alternatives. (the expression I am not able is idiomatic of people who do not like their prospects). Digging (σκάπτω, skaptō) is the labor of the uneducated (BAGD 753; BAA 1505; elsewhere in the NT only at 6:48; 13:8; Aristophanes, Birds 1432). He had a white-collar job and does not feel capable of returning to menial labor (in Judaism such labor was less honorable; ; Plummer 1896: 383; Schweizer 1984: 254).
The other alternative was equally unacceptable. To beg (ἐπαιτέω, epaiteō) would be even more shameful for one who was used to doing the bidding of a wealthy person (; ; BAGD 282; BAA 571; elsewhere in the NT only at ). The steward needs to devise a solution that will leave him with the possibility of finding work from sympathetic business associates. He must act to clean up the situation as much as possible, or else his future will be full of pain (Marshall 1978: 618).
Verse 4
The steward’s fate with the master is sealed, so he seeks to improve his status with others. The third-person plural δέξωνται (dexōntai, they will receive) looks ahead to the debtors mentioned in 16:5. The steward hopes that they will take him into their care or employment.
Verse 5
The debts involved commodities, and were due to be paid at harvest time. By reducing what they were obligated to pay his master, he put them under obligation to him. Reciprocation was an integral part of Jewish society; if someone did a person a favor, that person was obligated to do one for him.
There are three explanations for the steward’s alteration of the debt.
1. The steward wielded his authority as steward and simply lowered the price, an act that either undercut his boss or finally rectified the financial situation. If so, this act might have been a strike at the owner, since it would make him look like the “bad guy” in the pricing, which the steward was cleverly fixing before his firing.
2. He removed the interest charge from the debt in accordance with the Mosaic law ( [22:24 MT]; ; ; [23:20–21 MT]; Derrett 1970: 56–63, esp. 56–57). This would benefit not only himself in his future job search but also bring his master in line with the law. The differing rate of reduction (the first bill is halved, the second is reduced by 20 percent) is a problem for this view, unless different materials drew different interest rates, a point that Derrett (1970: 66, 69) acknowledges, arguing that oil was charged at 80 percent.
3. The steward removed his own commission, sacrificing his own money, not that of his master. The differing rate or reduction is less of a problem for this view, since the commission, instead of being fixed, might fluctuate depending on the material.
Regardless of which view is taken, the point of the steward’s action is to lessen the debtor’s burden and to create future goodwill toward him upon his release into the labor market.
Verse 6
One hundred measures of olive oil was 875 gallons, or the yield of about 150 olive trees, and was worth about one thousand denarii—more than three years’ wages for a common laborer. The new deal, which cut the debt in half, created a significant loss for his master.
Verse 7
The second debtor owed a hundred measures of wheat. The manager reduced his bill by twenty percent to eighty measures of wheat, once again defrauding his former master of a considerable amount of money (a hundred measures of wheat would have been equivalent to eight to ten years’ wages for a common laborer). These were not cases where a debt was restructured due to extenuating circumstances, such as crop damage from weather or locusts, or price fluctuations. This was done solely to benefit the manager, by making the debtors to the master debtors to him

The unrighteous steward is praised for his acting with shrewdness (8)

Luke 16:8 NASB95
“And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.
Verse 8a
The manager took advantage of his opportunity, carefully working the situation to his own advantage. Since the debtors were now obligated to him, his future was secure.
Then came the shocking, unexpected conclusion to the story: his master praised the unrighteous manager. To those listening to the Lord relate this story, it would have seemed that he had taken leave of his senses. But the master did not praise the manager because he was wasteful, irresponsible, or a thief. He praised him because he had acted shrewdly. Phronimōs (shrewdly) means to act wisely and with insight. Irony or sarcasm in this verse is excluded by the use of ἐπαινέω (epaineō, to praise), which is uniformly positive in the NT (; , , [twice]; so also the eleven uses of the noun [in , ἐπαινέω has to be negated with οὐκ for it to show a negative force]) The manager took advantage of his opportunity, carefully working the situation to his own advantage. Since the debtors were now obligated to him, his future was secure.
Verse 8b
Jesus is saying that the master’s remark is right “because” of the principle of 16:8b. In the parable, a normally unrighteous man acts to his benefit. He has been shrewd. Jesus’ remark is that those of the world (“the sons of this age”) give more foresight to their future, they are more shrewd in their dealings with people than are God’s children (“the sons of light”)
Sinners are more skilled and diligent in securing their temporal future in this present age than those whose citizenship is in heaven () are in securing their eternal reward in the age to come.
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 ( 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 point is not so much the means chosen to do this, though that is important, as it is the wisdom of having such a concern.
So what are the implications for followers of Jesus

Three Implications from the parable (9-13)

Jesus teaches about finances in relation to others (9)

Luke 16:9 NASB95
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.
What did the manager do? What many unbelievers do — use money to buy earthly friends. But those friends, like the money, will not last past this present life, thus bringing no benefit in death. Believers are to use their money to spread the gospel and thus purchase heavenly friends, those who came to faith through their investment in the gospel ministry. They are the ones who will be waiting to receive those believers when they arrive in glory because through their sacrifices, these heard and believed the gospel.
Luke 16
Besides the spreading of the gospel
What did the manager do? What many unbelievers do — use money to buy earthly friends. But those friends, like the money, will not last past this present life, thus bringing no benefit in death. Believers are to use their money to spread the gospel and thus purchase heavenly friends, those who came to faith through their investment in the gospel ministry. They are the ones who will be waiting to receive those believers when they arrive in glory because through their sacrifices, these heard and believed the gospel.
The Lord has called Christians to use their money for eternal purposes, thereby producing a heavenly reward.
Matthew 6:19–21 NASB95
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Where we invest our money reveals where our heart is. Believers who continuously seek more money for their own personal consumption act sinfully, wastefully, and rob themselves of eternal blessing.

Jesus teaches about finances in relation to ourselves (10-12)

Jesus encourages believers to be faithful to make eternal investments.
Luke 16:10 NASB95
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.
One may say if they only had more money, then they would give more. It is not circumstances that determine faithfulness but character. But the text of about the poor widow who gave all she had, illustrates those who having little or nothing in the eyes of the world yet gave everything to the LORD in contrast to those who had much giving nothing. So the issue is not money, but integrity and spiritual character before the Lord. Those who were faithful would continue to be faithful, no matter what they had; conversely those who were unrighteous in what they had would be unrighteous if they had much.
Luke 16:11 NASB95
“Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?
Luke 16:11his has implications for eternal rewards. Why would God entrust great eternal riches to anyone who wastefully misses the opportunity to do good
This has implications for eternal rewards. Why would God entrust great eternal riches to anyone who wastefully misses the opportunity to do good with unrighteous wealth. To fail to invest what resources we have in the work of the gospel will impoverish us for eternity. Eternal reward comes to the faithful ones.
Luke 16:12 NASB95
“And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
Luke 16:12These
What a question! Here is the importance of stewardship: all that we have actually belongs to Another - God; we are responsible to manage it for His glory; faithful stewardship will bring true riches that will last for eternity as reward for faithfulness.

Jesus teaches about finances in relation to God (13)

Luke 16:13 NASB95
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Luke 16:13
Here is another common sense example. The term translated serve refers to serving as a slave. The slave is the property of a master who had the right to exclusive service, a service that could not be rendered to another at the same time.
This is a fundamental choice of allegiance. One cannot be both God’s slave and the slave of material wealth. The conflict of demands will affect us emotionally, and slowly poison our attitudes. Just as the unrighteous steward was prudent in considering what the future required, so we too must be prudent in considering how God desires us to handle his resources. If you are a lover of money and claim to be Christ’s you will slowly despise and resent what He demands of your stewardship. If you truly love Him, you will choose to love and serve Him exclusively by managing the resources entrusted to you for the sake of the gospel of salvation to the glory of God.
You see, the riches we most need to pursue are those that cause God to be pleased.
Related Media
Related Sermons