10 - Using money to buy friends
Using Money to Buy Friends
Life According to Jesus
January 18, 2009
Parts of this message was derived from a message from Larry Sarver titled “How to Use Money Wisely”
This morning we are continueing in our teaching series “Life According to Jesus” We are studying together the commandments of Jesus… Two weeks ago we talked about tithing… or giving 10% of your financial gain back to God. I had several questions this past week about tithing. I think the one thing I want to clarify this morning is that giving is always a matter of the heart.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (ESV)
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
I believe the tithe is a starting point… in our giving not the end goal… We should never develop the attitude that says I gave my 10% THAT GOOD ENOUGH… Because God always looks at the heart…
So this week we are going to be talking about money again… Specifically how we are to use the money God has entrusted to us…
Our text for this morning is Luke 16:1-15, one of the most unusual parables Jesus ever told. At first glance it can seem troubling… Many Bible teachers merely skip over this parable and pretend it does not exist… Many of you, here this morning have asked me “Where in the Bible does it say to use money to make friends?” Well it is found in Luke 16:9
It is the parable of the Crooked Manager. In this parable Jesus’ tells the story of a manager who took advantage of his position. He used dishonest methods to give an accounting of his company’s assets for his own personal gain. And then he is commended for his shrewdness.
If you have your Bible open with me to Luke 16
Luke 16:1-15 (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. 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? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 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.” 14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
Let’s unpack this a little bit!
In New Testament times extremely wealthy people would hire managers or stewards to oversee their financial affairs. These managers would keep the books, approve of expenditures, pay employees, make contracts, track loans, etc.
Today we call such people "financial managers." Or CFO’s
In this story the manager has been caught "wasting" the owners possessions and is told that he should get the books in order because he is going to be fired.
The word translated as "wasting" is the same word used in the story of the Prodigal Son to describe how he wasted his inheritance when he "squandered his wealth."
That means the manager was not just guilty of making some bad investments or a simple bookkeeping error. This guy was taking advantage of being a steward and was squandering his master’s wealth on himself.
Something that is important for us to realize is this guy already had it good… He was a very wealthy man’s business manager… He had complete control of all his masters’ business dealings. His mastered trusted him. He had use of all his masters stuff. He had a nice place to live and plenty of food… but instead of being grateful for all of this, he was greedy and jealous.
So he began to look out for his own financial interests instead of his masters… He used his master’s money to indulge himself rather than to further his master’s purposes.
IF YOU GET NOTHING ELSE THIS MORNING GET THIS… GOD IS THE MASTER WE ARE HIS STEWARDS…
In the story the manager realizes that he is in a real heap of trouble because he will not be able to get another job managing money primarily because FANYMA and FREDYMAC had not yet been created so there was no market for crooked managers.
And Jesus tells us that he is too old or to weak for manual labor, and too proud to beg and obviously a Golden Parachute was not part of his contract.
He is in a dilemma, there is no such thing as welfare or unemployment…
But being a shrewd manager, he does not ignore this dilemma but instead he comes up with a plan to secure his future financial needs.
He decides to use this last opportunity as the owner’s legal manager to help others by reducing the debts they owed to the owner so that they will show him a favor when he is in need. And because he had authority over his master possessions it was a legal act but not a moral one.
As a result of his dishonest actions… he rightfully expects that "people will welcome him into their houses." The crooked manager is counting on the old principle:
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours…
In verse 8, Jesus says that when the master found out what the dishonest manager had done he "commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly."
The thing that confuses people about this parable is that a crook would be praised, but if you look carefully at the story it is not the manager’s dishonesty that is commended, rather it is his shrewdness
Then after telling this parable, Jesus then tells his disciples, to be just as shrewd in using money for eternal benefits as the "people of the world" are in using money for worldly benefits.
The word shrewd in this context means to act wisely with insight. The Dictionary says it means, “given to wily and artful ways or dealings…”
This is the main point of the parable.
Christians should shrewdly use their money and possessions in a way that will benefit the Kingdom of God. Money and Possessions are tools given by God to be leveraged for the Kingdom… Remember the parable of the Talents, God expect a return on his investment.
LET ME UNPACK SOME APPLICATION POINTS FOR US THIS MORNING.
If we are going to make wise money decisions that impact the Kingdom we must first recognize we are stewards or managers not owners…
We are responsible for managing God’s resources… we own nothing… IT ALL BELONGS TO GOD!!!
We touched on this point a couple weeks ago when we talked about tithing but I think it bears repeating…
One of the primary points in this parable is this: what we consider our money and possessions are not really ours.
Your house, your Cars, your Toys, Your Tools, You Retirement Accounts… None of it is yours! Many Christian struggles with the principle of being stewards instead of owners.
Let me share with you one of the issues, I have with the principle of tithing. It becomes a religious duty that can be used to justify how the other 90% is spent.
You see… it is easy to develop the mindset that the 10 percent of your income that you give to the church belongs to God while the other 90 percent is yours to use as you see fit.
THAT IS NOT WHAT THE BIBLE OR JESUS TEACHES…
The Bible teaches that 100 percent of our material goods, whether money or possessions, belong to God. IT IS ALL GODS… Every last penny of it… Everything you have in your possession is God’s… right down to the shirt on your back… It is all His…
As such we are not only responsible for how we use the first 10 percent but also for how we use the other 90 percent of the money God allows us to acquire.
When you really start to understand this principle it will change how you use your money and your stuff…
I don’t know about you but when I borrow something from somebody… I always treat it better than if it were mine… If I borrow somebody’s car I always try to wash it and return it full of gas… I haven’t washed my truck in 2 months… I always try to treat other people stuff better than I would treat my own… and I expect that people do the same when I lend stuff out.
I think most of us are like that… We tend to be wiser and more cautious in using those things that do not belong to us and we expect the same in return.
When we understand that we are stewards of God’s money and that we own nothing it will change how we us God’s resources in the same way…
So, does this mean that a Christian cannot spend any money on himself or herself?
No, not at all. A manager in New Testament times was entitled to use some of the master’s money to meet his and his family’s needs and to use some for his enjoyment.
But a manager’s first priority is to furthering the owner’s purposes with the money not his own.
If a manager is using the owner’s money primarily to indulge his wants then he is not being a good steward and is in danger of being fired when the owner finds out, just like we see in this parable.
So how are you doing at managing God’s resources?
Are you a good manager?
Are you using those resources to further God’s purposes in the world?
Or, are you using those resources to further your own purposes?
FIRST, TO USE MONEY WISELY WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE THAT WE ARE MANAGERS AND NOT THE OWNERS OF MONEY.
This principle serves as a basic foundation for using money wisely… That is why I wanted to touch on it again… Now let’s look at the second application point …
2. USE MONEY AND POSSESSIONS TO MAKE FRIENDS.
Luke 16:9-12 (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. 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? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
In verse 9 Jesus says…
And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth… the term unrighteous wealth is the word for mammon or money…
Jesus tells us to "use worldly wealth to gain friends."
I hope that makes you a little uncomfortable… we know we can’t buy true friendship… So what is Jesus getting at here?
The Greek word that is translated friend here is the primitive Greek word “philos” it has multiple meaning but the primary definition is “to be a friend, to be friendly to one, to wish him well.”
That is why The New Living Translation translates verse 9 as "…Use your worldly resources to benefit others…In this way your generosity stores up a reward in heaven."
I realize the manager did not use his own money but the master’s money to help others but that goes back to the first point. It is all the masters’ money, none of it belongs to us.
I have been praying and studying this verse for sometime… and let me tell you there are a lot of opinions on what Jesus is trying to say but this is what I think Jesus is trying to communicating to us this morning…
USE YOUR MONEY AND POSSESSIONS TO BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS…
You see when we help others with their physical needs it opens up a door for the Gospel…
Using money to help others is a good investment in the Kingdom, its good stewardship, it is part of God’s plan… and it is a common theme in Scripture
James 2:14-16 (ESV)
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
Real Faith helps those in need…
Matthew 25:34-40 (ESV)
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
When we help those in need, it is as if we are helping Jesus Himself…
Another example from scripture is the story of the Good Samaritan… where the Samaritan helps the man who had been robbed and left for dead… He pays for all his care until he was well again… The Samaritan who is the most unlikely of all the characters in the story to help is the one who used his money and resources to help someone in need.
Why is it shrewd to use money to help others?
Because money is temporary… but the things we do for Jesus have eternal rewards…
Jesus makes this point again and again, we see it in:
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.
Jesus makes the same point in:
Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy in this very thing in:
1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV)
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
So the bottom line is everything belongs to God and if we are to be good stewards of God’s money, we should use his possessions to influence people into the Kingdom.
Maybe that means you use your house to host a bible study for your neighbors, maybe it means you loan out you tools to the neighbor next door, maybe it means you buy the single mom at work a month’s worth of groceries and let her know you are praying for her. Maybe it means you help out the Cuevas family whose house burnt down January 6th by making a donation at Peoples Bank…
But as Christians we are to use God’s resources to bless others and hopefully earn the privilege of sharing Christ with them and in the end we gain more than a friend. We gain a brother or sister in the Lord… We need to use money to make friends for the Kingdom.
Now let’s look very briefly at verses 13-15 and the third application point.
Luke 16:13-15 (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.” 14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
The Third application point this morning is:
3. SERVING GOD AND HIS PURPOSES MUST BE OUR SINGULAR FOCUS.
Jesus is primarily speaking to the religious leaders here, i.e. the Pharisees.
The Pharisees were very much interested in accumulating money, possessions, and power. And they had no problem using their religious positions to accomplish that goal… They even taught that a person’s wealth was connected to one’s holiness or spirituality. The Pharisee believed that those who were poor were less worthy and even being punished for their sins…
They were the first prosperity teachers.
They felt that their desire for money did not conflict with being godly people, but Jesus points out they cannot serve both!
You cannot be focused on obeying God and at the same time be focused on getting rich. You end up devoted to one while despising the other.
That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 6 to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you as well.
God must be your first priority…
According to the REVEAL survey that we took as a church in November only 27% of our congregation are truly willing to put God first in their lives. Only 44% of our congregation have a Biblical view of stewardship… and we know that only 20% to 25% of you actually give to a level of a tithe… which is supposed to be the starting point for Christians not the goal…
I share this not to guilt you into giving more money… that is completely between you and God… I trust God to supply for all our needs
I share this with you because as a church there seems to be a disconnect between what the Bible teaches and what we are doing…
If you look on the back of your program, our top value that defines us here at northern peaks is… Biblical Teaching: we want God’s Word (The Bible) to guide us in all we do.
So I just challenge you this morning to let God’s word pierce your heart:
1. Is God the singular focus of your life?
2. Do you have a Biblical view of money and possessions?
3. Are you using the money and possessions God has given you for His Glory?
Jesus said that what is highly valued among men, accumulation of wealth and the use of it for selfish purposes, is "detestable in God’s sight."
God doesn’t value money, gold is used to pave the streets in heaven, God values faithfulness, helping others, generosity, and sacrifice.
I hope you and I will determine in our hearts to value the things that God Values