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The Greatest Investment Principle

Parables "Jesus the Master Teacher"   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Believers are to use their Masters money in a way that will bring friends for eternity - by investing in the kingdom gospel that brings sinners to Salvation.

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INTRODUCTION
Our hearts’ treasure is revealed by how much value we place on someone or something.
It is estimated that for every 10,000 oysters harvested, only one will contain a high-quality pearl. The scarcity of natural pearls in turn makes them incredibly valuable—and incredibly well sought-after. Celebrities, jewelry connoisseurs, royals from every continent, and more have paid millions of dollars to get their hands on high-quality pearls, some of which fetched record-breaking sums.
A famous necklace with a 500-year history owned by Elizabeth Taylor auctioned in an estate sale went for 11 million dollars.
If Jesus is our greatest treasure, that is “Our Pearl of Great Price” then we will value his purposes and his kingdom above all else. Is there something today that you are valuing and treasuring over Christ and His kingdom.
Note: Money is a common theme in Jesus Parables, roughly 1/3 of the forty or so parables Jesus told have something to do with earthly riches, treasure, coins or currency of some kind.
Jesus consistent teaching shows how hard it is for those who trust in their riches to enter the kingdom of God.
“You cannot seek God and money.” (Matthew 6:24).
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33).
Jesus continually seeks to change the paradigm or lenses through which we see the world around us.
Riches Hinder entering the Kingdom of Heaven.
Rich man and Lazarus
The rich fool
Remind us that we are merely stewards of what God has given us. (we need to be wise and faithful)
Parable of the vinedresser
parable of the talents
parable of the minas
Shows the infinite value of the Heavenly Kingdom of God
The Hidden Treasure
The pearl of great price
Luke 16:1–9 ESV
1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2 And he 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.’ 3 And 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, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ 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?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
Note: Scripture is very clear on the matter of money, that we are to constantly guard against the love of money, because it is the root of all kinds of evil and greediness.
Notice that Jesus wraps up his sermon on the mount in Matthew 6:19-21 by giving a clear directive: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and the thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroy s and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.
Luke 16 our Lord tells a parable that echoes this directive in the Sermon on the Mount.
THE STORY
The main character in the story is a man whom Jesus only refers to as the “unjust steward.” So there is no question about the character of this man. The stewards actions had been ruthlessly underhanded and self-seeking to say the least. Apparently it had gotten so bad at wasting his boss’s assets, possibly using them on himself and for his own gain. Possibly he felt as thought he was free to use the masters resources how ever he saw fit.
Apparently it had gotten so bad that the boss had to come down and straighten things out. The result was an immediate termination notice. The steward now, all the sudden was concerned that his underhanded ways would come back to bite him once he was unemployed. By his own admission he was not cut out to be a manual labor ditch digging kind of guy.
So, he opted to cook the books and cheat the rich man even more. He graciously forgave Large sums of debt to get on the good side of those he had wronged. Therefore, when the rich man finally threw him out he would be received by the people and hopefully they would remember the grace he showed them.
Now, Jesus is using the illustration of the unscrupulous behavior of this man to make a point. Remember Jesus himself refers to the man as an “unjust steward.” There is nothing you can do to pretty this pig up and make him seem more presentable.
So, what is the point Jesus is trying to make? Why does he commend the shrewdness of a dishonest servant. Remember this is a parable, it is meant to teach a biblical principle. It is not real life. Jesus made this story up. Remember Jesus original Hebrew audience would have been just as shocked or even more so than you and I are.
NOTE: This parable immediately comes on the heals of the parable of the prodigal son, which is a call to the Pharisees and scribes to repent, believe the gospel, and be granted admission into the kingdom of God.
Notice that this parable is addressed to his disciples who are already committed to following Jesus. They have left everything to follow Him. These are men and women who love righteousness, turn away from evil, and live their lives with a concern for the glory of Christ.
This is a discipleship message and model for Believers
The rich man in the story is so wealthy that he does not even need to be involved in the day to day concerns of his business affairs. He has other people to handle all of the tasks of day to day operations. It is obvious that his is a massive operation because the debt owed by just two of his debtors was hundreds of measures of oil and wheat. The rich man possibly lived in a large estate removed from the business, because he clearly did not have firsthand knowledge of what his steward was doing.
The manager was also a man who apparently had not worked a hard labor day in his life. He had soft hands and a cushy life. (stewards were often trusted servants who had been born and raised in the masters household - treated like part of the family.)
The steward was also given the authority to act on behalf of the master in all business dealings.
The accusations must have been true. Notice that the steward does not try to mount a defence. The rich man acted immediately and decisively in this case. It was a bad management decision on the rich man’s part to allow the steward time to finish his accounting only leaving him more opportunity to foul things up. Clearly if when the steward was trusted he could not manage his masters accounts well, why would it be any different now that he is being removed from employment.
Clearly there was no way to cover up his guilt, so while the steward was preparing the final accounting he concocted an underhanded final accounting that would benefit himself before he was left homeless, jobless, and penniless.
THE SCHEME OF THE UNFAITHFUL SERVANT
He was shameless, only concerned for one person on the planet, himself.
The discounts were deep and costly. One hundred measures of oil was 875 gallons. The price of that much oil would be about a thousand denarii. A 50 percent discount would be equal to one year’s wage. 100 measures of wheat was a thousand bushels. A hundred acres was required for producing that much wheat. It’s full value equalled 8-10 years labor for a typical farmer so, 20 percent discount would be about one years pay.
verse 5 say’s the steward called every one of his masters debtors to him, giving similar discounts.
Up to this point in the story you can sympathize with the rich sympathize with the rich man. Now in verse 8 the master commends the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly.
You may have thought this similar to the parable in Matthew 24 where the master of the servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.
However, in this the rich man is not a a figure of Christ. Jesus deliberately set this story in the realm of secular business, where this sort of behavior goes on all the time. Even in today’s culture rich businessmen voice an admiration for the shrewd but underhanded tactics of both rivals and partners.
NOTE: It is not the stewards villainy that the master admires. He did not applaud the stewards lack of honor but he commended the man’s forward thinking. The steward was not trying to cover or excuse his past, he was trying to secure his future.
Here is the main point of the whole story:
Luke 16:8 ESV
8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.
The sinful world we live in tend to work to secure pleasure in the short-term temporal well-being where believers store up our treasures for the Kingdom of God.
Lessons from Narnia
“For those who came out to the movie last night, what was the lesson we learned from Edmund in the move?” Yes, that the things that the world has to offer are an illusion. The appear to be beneficial in the short-term. Remember when the queen offers Edmund a place of position, honor and authority. It all seemed like a way to get ahead however, what happened in the long run?
The illusion wore off and the spell that had him captive was broken. Edmund was then left in a state brokenness and regret.
WHAT ARE THE THREE LESSONS WE LEARN FROM THIS STORY?

Lesson #1 Money is a resource to be used for the good of others.

Luke 16:9 ESV
9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
“Make friends for yourself by worldly possessions, this means possessions that are characterized by this unrighteous age. Remember money does not have any real value in itself, it can be used for good or evil. The writer is speaking of all earthly possessions that we do not take into eternity with us. What Jesus is saying, is that even though you cannot take these things with you.
Make sure that what you are using your possessions for here will benefit the eternal kingdom of God. The friends he is talking about are believers, those who are a part of the eternal kingdom of God.

*How are you making the INVISIBLE Kingdom VISIBLE?

What is the Kingdom of God
A Kingdom is that territory which a king reigns and rules over. Since we understand that God is the creator of all things, the extent of His rule and reign is infinite. Therefore, the kingdom of God is wherever He rules and reigns.
When John the Baptist comes out of the wilderness he proclaims, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” We see it again when Jesus appears on the scene he makes the same pronouncement.
So, God’s messianic kingdom, is a kingdom that will be ruled and reigned by God’s appointed Messiah, who will be not just the Redeemer of His people, but their King. So, the kingdom has already been established through the blood of Christ.
Now when Jesus left this earth his disciples asked him when He would restore the Kingdom of Israel. This could have possibly gone very wrong for the disciples since Jesus told His disciples numerous times that He was not going to restore the Kingdom to Israel. Jesus gently answers by telling them that they are not to know the day or hour that it will happen however, He will be sending them the Holy Spirit who will be a witness in us to the Kingdom of God.
We experience a conflict of kingdoms when Jesus tells us to pray, “your kingdom come.” What does this mean? What are we praying for when we petition God in this way. The first petition is “Hallowed by your name,” which is a plea that the name of God would be regarded as holy. Until the name of God is regarded as holy, His kingdom will not and cannot come to this world. But for those who confess His name as holy then have the responsibility to make the kingdom of God known.
John Calvin said it is the task of the Church to make the invisible Kingdom visible. We do this by living in such a way that we bear witness to the reality of the kingship of Christ in our jobs, families, schools and most importantly with our checkbooks.

Lesson #2 Everything we have belongs to God

*How are you being a good steward with what God has given you?

We make all kinds of excuses why we are not faithful with what God has entrusted to us.
“I have heard people say, “If I had more I would give more.” No you wouldn’t. Truly faithful people are generous because of their character, not because of their circumstance. Remember the widow who had virtually nothing and gave all she had.
Lot’s of people who have everything give nothing. A person with meager resources who spends everything he has on himself is not going to become selfless if he suddenly becomes rich. More money will only lead to more self-indulgent impulses.
It is crucial for believers to have a proper perspective on their duty as stewards, regardless of whether they have little or much. In fact, Jesus statement in this text seems to suggest that wise stewardship is best learned and committed to practice in small ways first.
It is crazy to wish for wealth if you have not been true and faithful with what God has already given you.
Luke 16:10–11 ESV
10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?
So, the whole point about being a good steward is about Christian integrity and character not about money or large lavish gifts. If we truly see the value of the eternal perspective we have been giving the question of whether we should or should not be generous with what God has given us will never cross our minds.
NOTE: What makes a good steward? Someone becomes a good steward once they understand that everything we have is a gracious gift from God.
Psalm 24:1 ESV
1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE: So, here is the cultural perspective for us to grasp. The earth and everything it it is the Lord’s we are merely managers of what God has entrusted to us to manage. Handling money wisely is all about choices. Often our choices are guided by two principles.

1) Good Stewards evaluate what is good, better and best.

A good wise manager of the resources that God has given him prioritizes his spending with a budget. A good steward does not spend haphazardly never giving a second thought to the kingdom of God and investing in the eternal kingdom.

2) We must delay our Gratification

Are Christians commanded to Tithe?
Tithing was a requirement that preceded the Mosaic law. The first explicit reference we find is in Genesis 14 where Abraham tithes to Melchizedek, and again in Genesis 28 where Jacob promises to give God “a full tenth.” We have a clear picture in Genesis 4 with Cain and Able that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted precisely because it was a tithe. The Old Testament was clear that people are to give back to him. The idea of giving back to God what is His continues into the New Testament.
Although the tithe or idea of 10 percent is rooted in the Old Testament, it is unreasonable for us to think that the standard God gave in the Old Testament would be downgraded now that we are under the period of grace.
In both the Old and New Testament, stewarding our gifts and resources was always a God-ordained gift for the benefit of the Church.
Note: Buyers remorse is a real thing. This is why they advice people before making a major purpose to sleep on it first. Much of the time people decide against it if they have time to process the purchase. This is why car dealers are so demanding on getting you to make a deal before you leave the car lot. They know if you leave the chances of your returning go way down.

3) We must live with the understanding that everything we have is His.

Malachi 3:8–10 ESV
8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
God accuses his people of robbing him by failing to tithe (3:8)
This reflects the teaching that the tithe belongs to God.
God challenge his people to test him.
Notice that this is the only place in scripture where we are called on to test God. Tithing is always a test of faith. It’s big enough to hurt, and it forces us to trust God to provide. But it’s not big enough to distress God’s people who are living within their means and leveraging their resources for his glory.
God promises to pour abundant blessings on his people when they tithe.
We also see this principle in 2 Cor. 9:6 “Whoever sows sparingly reaps sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully reaps bountifully. There is no other ceremonial aspect of the Mosaic law that draws condemnation by God quiet this way, except for offering corrupt sacrifices.
My First Trip to Bolivia
I remember my first trip to Bolivia. Before we headed deep into the Andes mountains the local missionary shared with us a valuable illustration. She shared with us the different lenses with which people see the world. Most people go through their whole lives seeing things through skewed lenses. We fail to see things as they really are.
She told us that we were going to need a prescription change in our lenses before we headed for the villages in the Andes mountains. Westerners look at the poor state of people in places like Bolivia with pity and somewhat of a sense of guilt for the way we live here.
However, what I learned on that first trips has been invaluable to me and the ministry that God has called me to follow. Even though the people had very meager resources, what they did have they stewarded well towards the kingdom of God. I went into a small home with dirt floors and a thatched roof. The animals would have to be brought into the living quarters during the winter so they would not freeze. The was very little in the house except for a few make shift chairs made out of limbs from the trees. When I walked into the house the older woman in the room who could barely walk stood up to give me her chair.
The family offered myself and our companions some potato stew of sorts and bread. I looked at the local missionary and she motioned for us to sit down and eat. The people in this village did not feel nor did they realize what little they had in the worlds standards. Why? Because they got the principle everything belonged to God and it was all His.
The things we call our own are ultimately God’s possessions not ours. They are not private property to be used chiefly for our person benefit. They are divine blessing meant to be used for the benefit of others.
Cultural Note: This is true whether you have little or much
Luke 12:34 “For where you treasure is there your heart will be also”
WHAT WE DO WITH OUR MONEY REVEALS THE STATE OF OUR HEART
Note: Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous things how can you expect the true riches of God?
Luke 16:12 ESV
12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
Note: This is another reminder that nothing in the world is permanent, it is all passing away. You can’t take it with you.

3. Do not let money take the place of God in your heart.

In verses 10-12, Jesus urges us to examine ourselves.
Luke 16:13 ESV
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.”
NOTE: You cannot serve God and Money.

*Stewarding God’s resources is a way of life.

Cultural Connection: Stewarding the resources that God has given us is not a once a year thing or at those special times of the year when we feel obligated or guilty if we don’t. For many Christians stewarding their resources is an after thought. If we have anything left over. If it fits into our over plan for our resources.
NOTE: In Biblical terms a steward was a slave, or Bond Servant to the property or Master. Believers are the property of their Master who has purchased us, by divine right. We cannot have the same relationship with anyone else on earth.

*Stewardship separates believers from the pretenders.

Note: In essence Jesus is saying that it is an impossibility for a true believer to serve God and money. People who waste all that they have been given on resources that do not last cannot be called true stewards of God.
However, the one who “honors the Lord first and best with the firstfruits of all they have demonstrate that they are stewards who have forsaken the almighty God of this worlds wealth.
Proverbs 3:9 ESV
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
Cultural Note: Have you notice something about all the parables we have studied thus far. There is not middle ground with God. “ You cannot serve God and anything else this world has to offer.”
Note: Some of the Pharisees must have dropped in to eavesdrop on Jesus conversation with his disciples. The Pharisee’s who were lovers of money, also heard all that Jesus was saying so they fired back at Jesus. This leads into next weeks parable of a very wealthy man in the afterlife. It is by far the most grim and disturbing of all Jesus parables.
CONCLUSION
Man at The Mercy House
He learned that even though he once was a millionaire and now was serving people in the homeless shelter that the life and gifts he has now from God cannot compare to all the money he once had and spent on himself.
A Poured Out Life
In an article titled “When Wasting Your Life Is Worship,” Jon Bloom compares how Mary and Judas each responded to Jesus in John 12. In our lives, we have to either choose the Pearl (earthly wealth; Matthew 13:45) or the puddle (a life of sacrifice for God). “If we choose the Pearl, we hear in Judas’s objection the world’s appraisal of us. They watch as we pour our valuable time, intellects, money, youth, financial futures, and vocations out on Jesus’s feet. They watch them puddle in the bowls of churches, mission fields, orphanages, and homes where children are raised and careers are lost. And what they see is foolish waste. Expect their rebuke, not their respect. Jesus wants you to waste your life like Mary wasted her perfume. For it is no true waste. It is true worship. A poured out life of love for Jesus that counts worldly gain as loss displays how precious he really is”

BIG IDEA: Are you Wasting your Life?

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