Posts Tagged ‘Money’

Luke 16:10-18 Teachings on Stewardship

September 21, 2009

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.”

The Law and the Kingdom of God

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.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. [1] 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

Divorce and Remarriage

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

  • From a parable about money, now Luke gives us Jesus’ actual teaching about money.  Jesus gives us a strong warning about the dangers of wealth.  Has the Church or the world taken this warning seriously?  “Some where along the line serious repentance, and a renewed determination to hear and obey Jesus’ clear teaching, seems called for.” N.T. Wright
  • The key to this passage is that it is about faithfulness.  “Money is not a possession, it’s a trust.” N.T Wright  Our money is entrusted to us by God and should be used to His glory not for our glory.  Money also leads to true wealth (verse 11) in the life to come but we must first learn faithfulness.
  • Without faithfulness we will be torn between two masters.  The Pharisees believed their wealth was a blessing from God.  Jesus already warned back in chapter 14 verse 33 that this was not so.  How easy it is to look at my own material wealth and just assume these are God’s blessings?  The Pharisees looked to the law and the prophets to validate their belief.  The prosperity gospel is not a new concept.
  • Was Jesus contradicting the law and the prophets?  No!!!!  The law and the prophets were not God’s last word.  After John the Baptist, God’s word has come again, in a new way.  But this doesn’t negate what came before.  “They (the law and the prophets) are a true signpost to what God is going to do, even though they cannot themselves bring about the new day, the new world, that God is creating through Jesus.” N.T. Wright
  • The last verse on divorce (verse 18) is mainly an example of a commandment that was being set aside by many within Judaism at that time.  Jesus was highlighting  the unfaithfulness of the religious leaders to God’s law.   The Pharisees believed Jesus was contradicting the law, when in fact it was them.
  • I must be faithful.  Faithful with money, faithful to God, faithful to the Kingdom, faithful to my wife and children, and faithful to my friends.  “As soon as we begin to think of money, or land, or other people, as commodities we might own or exploit, we take a step away from our vocation to be truly human beings, God’s true children, and towards the other master, who is always ready to accept new servants.” N.T. Wright
  • Which master do I serve?

Luke 16:1-9 Parable of the Shrewd Manager

September 16, 2009

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

16:1 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 [1] 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 [2] 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 [3] 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, [4] so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

  • What does this passage mean?  Ezekiel 18 teaches that it is wrong to make money by lending at interest.  “Was the Bible against making money out of other money, or was it – was Jesus, indeed – telling us we should use any sharp financial practices we could to get ourselves out of difficulties.” N.T. Wright
  • How does this story work? 1.  The master in the story was not totally innocent.  It was unlawful to lend money at interest, but to get around this you could lend in kind with commodities, such as oil and wheat.  2.  It seems that what the steward deducted from the bill was the interest, leaving only the principal to be paid.  In this way, the debtors would be happy and the master couldn’t fault the steward without revealing his shady business practices.  The master could only admire the clever steward.
  • Remember that this is a parable and not some piece of moral teaching about money and how to use it.  Although, there is a moral lesson to be learned.
  • OK then, let us dissect the parable.   The master in the story is God; the steward is Israel.  Israel is meant to be God’s property manager, the light of God’s world, responsible to God and set over his possessions.  But Israel has squandered God’s property and God is not pleased.  What should Israel do?
  • The Pharisees answer was to become more holy by micromanaging the law.  They created these strict rules to follow and forced all to follow them.  By doing this they were excluding the very same people Jesus was reaching out to.  From this parable, Jesus is telling the Pharisees that instead of pushing people away, they ought to make friends.  This was the only way to avoid the coming crisis.
  • Therefore, instead of being a greedy miser, we should be generous to all people in order to make friends for ourselves.
  • So what do we make of this passage in our day?  “Obviously it has nothing to do with commending sharp practice in business or personal finance.  Rather it advises us to sit light to the extra regulations which we impose on one another, not least in the church, which are over and above the gospel itself.” N.T. Wright
  • Am I excluding people from God’s kingdom?  Am I doing whatever I can to make friends?  Am I using all my resources to introduce people to the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Have I become a Pharisee that only follows a list of rules?  God has trusted me with his property.  Am I squandering it?