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Open your Bible for a minute to the 6th chapter of Matthew, 6th chapter of Matthew; Matthew, chapter 6 and verse 19. Jesus is speaking and He says, “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 and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.
Now, you’ve learned all week that we’re citizens of heaven, right? We’re to set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth. Heaven is our real home. We live spiritually in the heavenlies. We are citizens of heaven. We need to make sure that our treasure, that our treasure, is laid up in heaven. How do you do that? What is he talking about “treasure”? Talking about money, money.
If you live to be 80 years old, it is said that of your waking hours, 50 of those 80 years you’ll be thinking about money. Really? Think about it all the time. Every time you put your hand in your pocket and find some, you think about it. Every time you put your hand in your pocket and find none, you think about it. Constantly thinking about buying something, getting something. Thinking about a job and you think about how much money you’re going to earn and what you’re going to do with the money.
Money is a dominating reality in life because money is the commodity with which we live our lives. It takes money to eat, it takes money to sleep, it takes money to travel, it takes money to build networks and relationship and a life. In a very real sense, you can just kind of simplify – and this isn’t over-simplifying – you kind of simplify how to live your life with one very basic commitment: “I want to put my money in heaven. That’s where I’m going to be forever. I don’t want to accumulate things here, I want to send my money to heaven.”
Of course, you’re going to have to live and eat and provide for a family, and take care of reasonable things, and enjoy some of the luxuries of life. But the overall focus is, “I want to use my money – ” which, essentially, will dominate your life, even those of you who don’t get any money yet unless your parents hand it to you. You’re going to spend your whole life figuring out what to buy, and what to sell, and what to do with your money.
There’s some priorities. You’ve got to take care of your family. If a person doesn’t take care of his family, he’s worse than an unbeliever. Use your money to do charitable things to help poor people and those who are in need. Invest in the church. Perhaps, there’s some charities that you care about. Buy some things that you’ll enjoy.
Look, God has filled this world with amazing stuff and He’s given us all things richly to enjoy. But the overarching focus is, “I want my money sent up to heaven.” Now, how do I do that? If my heart’s there, that’s where my money’s going to go. Well, the best way to answer that is to turn to Luke, chapter 16. Jesus told about 40 parables, about 40 parables.
You know what a parable is? A story, just an illustration. And I’ll tell you a secret about parables that most people don’t know. Parables were designed to hide things. Did you hear that? Parables were designed to hide truth. To who? To the world watching.
Why did Jesus speak in parables? He went through a great amount of His ministry and only talked in propositional statement – no parables in the early ministry of Jesus. He taught Old Testament passages, He taught divine truth, He taught doctrines, didn’t speak in parables. Then one day – a really tragic day – one day, the people came to sort of a final rejection of Jesus. And so from that day on, He started to speak in parables. And the disciples said to Him, “Why are you talking in parables?” and He said, “To hide the truth from those who do not believe.”
Really a frightening judgment. People can reject the truth, and reject the truth, and reject the truth until, finally, the truth is hidden from them. In particular, that was the Pharisees. And as you come to the 16th chapter of Luke, Jesus gives a parable. He’s just given three amazing parables in chapter 15 that confounded the Pharisees – the leaders of Israel, the unbelievers – but that’s what they were intended to do; because now, when they wouldn’t believe, they reached a point where they couldn’t believe. When they wouldn’t understand what was clear, He now speaks in parables; and parables without an explanation are riddles.
Some people have the idea that Jesus spoke in parables to make things clear to unbelievers. No, He spoke in parables to hide things from unbelievers, and then privately explained them to His disciples. We’re in on the secret. “It’s given to you - ” Jesus said in Matthew 13 “ – to know. It’s given to you to know. It’s not given to the rest of the world to know.”
Now, Jesus tells a very strange parable here. Let me read the opening eight verses of chapter 16, Luke 16. He was saying to His disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. He called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do since my master is taking the management away from me? I’m not strong enough to dig; I’m 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 measure of wheat.’ And he said, ‘Take your bill and write eighty.’ 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.”
What in the world is this? Why would a man commend a manager for embezzling money for his own purposes? In fact, this is such outrageous behavior. This is so dishonorable that down in verse 14, after the explanation, it says “the Pharisees who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.”
This is a pretty typical response of the unbelieving leaders of Israel to the stories Jesus told. But they seem, at least on this occasion, to have some reason to scoff at such behavior. Why would a master praise an unrighteous manager for essentially discounting debt which costs the manager money? This is embezzlement. So let’s go back to the beginning and kind of pull this story together.
There was a rich man, very rich man. We can tell by the story he’s very rich. He had a manager. This is probably not a slave. This is probably a guy that he hired, kind of like a CEO, a chief executive officer under him. He was the owner.
Apparently, he was somewhere else. He lived in some other place, or he traveled a lot because he seems detached – the owner does – so he puts a manager in charge. And it was reported to the owner of the estate that this manager was wasting his possessions. He was squandering his possessions.
In other words, he was an inadequate manager. He was not doing what he should have done. He was not taking the possessions the master had put into his trust, multiplying them, protecting them. He was wasting them. It’s a similar word to the word “prodigal” which means “waste.”
So the man who owns the estate comes and he calls to him and he said to him in verse 2, “What is this I hear about you?” Well, that indicates how detached he was: “What is this I hear about you?” Somebody had to come and tell him what this guy was doing because, apparently, he wasn’t aware of it, wasn’t around to take note of it.
“What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, for you no longer can be manager.” Or, in the words of Donald Trump, “You’re fired.” “Give an account. You’ve got to show me the books, show me the ledger, show me where everything has gone. Show me what came in; show me what went out. I want a full report.”
Now, if I can make a suggestion: what the owner should have done that day is fire him, tell him to clean out his desk and get out that day. A little practical insight for you in the future when you have a business: if you find somebody in your business that is wasteful or criminal or doing things to embezzle, don’t let them back in the office the next day. Get rid of them. Let somebody else figure out what went wrong; because if you leave that person there, that person will manipulate the system to his own ends. And that’s exactly what he does.
So he thinks to himself in verse 4, “I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management, people will welcome me into their homes.” This guy’s pretty sharp. What this tells us is this is a very large estate. This is a hired manager. He not only runs the estate operation, but he lives there. He’s given a place to live, which means that the resources of this estate are what provide his living, his food, his world. Now he’s lost it all. He’s lost it all.
So what is he going to do? “My master is taking my management away from me? I’m not strong enough to dig. I don’t want to do manual labor.” This guy’s a fancy dude, a white collar worker you might say. “I don’t want to dig; I’m too ashamed to beg. I’m not going to humble myself and go sit on a street corner with my hand out and a sign written on a cardboard box. What am I going to do? I have to have a future. I’ve lost my job, I’ve lost my home, I’ve lost my source of food and provision.
“I know what I’ll do. I know what I’ll do – ” verse 4 “ – so that when I’m removed from the management, people will welcome me into their homes. I’ve got to have a place to go. I’ve got to have a place to go. I’ve got to have a place to live. I’ve got to have a future. I’ve got to do something to secure my future.” So he summoned each one of his masters debtors – and we don’t know how many there were. There could have been many, many of them theoretically. But Jesus makes up the story and only deals with two.
He calls these guys in and he says to the first one, “How much do you owe my master?” These are debtors that owe this man a significant amount of money, a significant amount. He says, “Well, I owe – ” and very often, debts were paid in commodities like here, grain and oil. He says, “I owe a hundred measures of oil.”
A hundred measures of oil; that is a lot of oil. Oil came out of olive trees. We’re not talking about petroleum oil, we’re talking about olive oil. It came out of olive trees. That would be the production. That would be exceptional production for a few years from a hundred-and-fifty olive trees – serious debt. “I owe him a hundred measures of oil.”
So the man says to him – the manager who’s going to be fired says, “Okay, I discount your bill. Just pay fifty.” Whoa. Really? Fifty percent discount. The guy can’t act fast enough.
Now, what does he assume? He assumes this man is acting for the owner. In good faith, he assumes that he’s doing what his boss would want him to do. So he doesn’t question the generosity of this. He can’t sign fast enough. “Take your bill – ” he says, “ – sit down, write quickly. Commit that you’re going to transfer fifty gallons of oil.”
Second man comes along and he says, “How much do you owe?” He said, “A hundred measures of wheat.” I tried to kind of figure out how much that would be. A hundred measures of wheat probably would take about a hundred acres, and it would take about eight to ten years to grow a crop like that. Significant debt, significant debt, large debt.
So he says, “Okay, I’ll give you a 20 percent discount.” Maybe there’s a little negotiation going on. This guy could pay eighty, but he couldn’t pay the hundred. So he discounts these debts and, basically, he’s taking money away from his boss. He’s taking money away from the estate owner.
But when his boss shows up and find out about this, what would you expect his reaction to be? Well, I think probably Matthew 24 is a good place to take a look at what would be expected. Matthew 24, our Lord tells a story about servants and slaves who didn’t do what they were supposed to, verse 45: “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.”
If he can be trusted, if he does right, he’ll give him even more authority. “But if that evil slaves says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eat and drink with drunkards – ” in other words, he does wrong, “ – the master of that slave will come on a day when he doesn’t expect him, at an hour which he doesn’t know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Whoa.
Now, the Pharisees would understand that kind of language, that if somebody embezzled money from the boss, the owner, dire consequences should come, and they would expect that. That’s why they mock at this story because that’s not what the master does. Verse 8: “His master praised the unrighteous manager. He praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly.”
Just how in the world can you praise him? He praised him, not for his righteousness, because he was unrighteous. He praised him not for embezzling his money – literally taking the money away from the owner, the money that was owed to him – but he praises him because he’s so clever. Let me tell you why this is so clever.
New Testament culture was an honor culture, Jewish culture was an honor culture, and you paid back when somebody treated you kindly. What he’s done now is obligate both of those men that he discounted debt for to him. Any man would know that. If you just got a 50 percent discount on a massive debt, you got a 20 percent discount on a massive debt, somebody did that for you, you reciprocate. Maybe if it was only one debt that was forgiven, there might not be peer pressure to reciprocate. But there’s two here, and they would kind of expect it of each other.
That’s how the culture worked. All of a sudden now, they are obligated to the man who discounted their debt. They are obligated to him. In that culture, they owe him. They’re in his debt. That’s exactly what he wants, because when he goes out of there, he’s going to cash in that obligation. He’s going to show up at the estate of some of these people that he’s discounted and say, “I need you now. I need a place to stay. I need a job. I need food and you owe me.”
So he literally obligates these men to take him in in the future. Simply put: he buys a future. He buys friends for a future. He buys a future home, future provision, future relationships. And that’s why the master says, “He is to be praised for being so shrewd.” He bought himself a future. He purchased friends in a scandalous way on one hand. But they didn’t know that the manager was acting independently of the owner.
And then Jesus says this in verse 8, look at it: “For the sons of this age – ” sons of this age meaning sinners, unbelievers, people outside the kingdom, people who are part of the world system, “ – the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.” Who are the sons of light? Believers.
Our Lord says sinners are more shrewd than believers. Sinners have enough since to manipulate things to secure their future. They make provision for the future. Jesus said, “Sons of light are less clever, less shrewd in securing their future.”
What about your future? Where is your future? It’s in heaven. That’s where your treasure should be. How does this all come together? It comes together in verse 9, okay, let’s look at it. And I’m not going to hold you a long time, I just want to make this main point.
Verse 9: “And so I say to you – ” to the disciples, “ – make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness – ” money. “Make friends for yourselves with your money, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.” What an amazing statement.
What is He saying? He’s simply saying, “This life is going to end, it’s temporal. There’s nothing you’re going to take with you of earthly possessions, earthly fortune, earthly treasure. So what you want to do is take your wealth, take your money, and make friends who will welcome you when you arrive in heaven – ” Did you get that? That is the essence of this whole passage, “ – so that when everything in this earth fails, life ends, and you arrive in heaven, you’ll be welcomed there by the friends you purchased with your money.”
You say, “How do you do that?” You invest in the kingdom. You invest in the gospel. You invest in the church. Use your money to present the gospel. Use your money for the life of the church: missions, evangelism. Use your money to purchase eternal friends.
So this is very important. We all know we’re called to witness, we’re called to talk about the gospel, proclaim the gospel, live the gospel, tell people about the gospel. We have a responsibility to witness.
But you say, “You know, I do that and I’ve never really seen anybody respond. I’ve never seen anybody come to Christ. And someday I may go to heaven and there’s not going to be anybody there because God used me in their salvation; or maybe just a few.” But, you can use your money to purchase friends for eternity. You can use your money to populate heaven. How do you do that? By investing in legitimate kingdom enterprises.
This is a good word for citizens. It’s very important. There are a lot of things in the world that’ll want to pull you off. They’re all over the place. There’s cancer research, and there’s poverty programs, and there are endless opportunities for the world to take your money. And certainly on occasion, when you’re moved and you have the opportunity, you may want to do that and do it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But, the priority for you as a kingdom citizen is to be investing everything that God gives you in the work of the gospel, beyond yourself, beyond you, beyond yourself. Put it in people who are making an impact in the world. Put it in ministries that are reaching around the globe. Put it in missionaries. Put it in the church. This is how you make friends with money who will welcome you into heaven. Incredible to think about it. When you arrive in heaven, there will already be there citizens waiting to welcome you who are there because you used your money for the sake of the gospel. Simple principle.
Listen, young people, this is the time to start to make these kinds of decisions because you’re going to go through your life, and the world is going to pull at you like crazy – more of this, and more of that, and more of this, and more of that; and bigger car, and better house; and on, and on, and on – constantly calling on you to use your money here. And when it fails, when this life ends, it is over. But I will promise you, if you are using your money to purchase friends for eternity, that’s how you put your treasure in heaven. And when you put your treasure in heaven, your heart goes there as well.
You mean being practical? We should be content with what we need, content with enjoying some of the things that the Lord provides for us, and then pour everything else into the kingdom to make eternal friends. Just think about it: what a priviledge, what a priviledge.
You may never be a missionary, you may never be a preacher, you may never be a pastor; but it’s amazing, the impact that you can have, absolutely amazing, with your money. This would be the right time in your life, as a young person, to begin to make that commitment. You ought to make a commitment to be as good as you can possibly be at what you do, make as much money as you can possibly make to invest in the kingdom. I’ve seen this all through my life.
One day a man walked into my office, not too long ago, and he said, “I want to invest in the kingdom, and I know you know where money should go, where the gospel is faithfully being preached. I know you know that. So you do anything you want with this money, just put it in a place that is going to purchase friends for eternity.” He reached in his shirt pocket, pulled out a little check on his checkbook, opened it up, handed it to me: $1 million. He said, “I don’t care what you do with it, I trust you. I just want it to go to the kingdom.” He left and got in his little old car, drove home. Purchasing friends for eternity.
We’re never going to be able to do that, all of us. It’d be nice, wouldn’t it? We’d all like to write a $1 million check. There are people who understand that.
People at Grace Church understand that. People at Grace Church understand that. It is staggering how the people of Grace Community Church give. It just staggers me every single week how generous, how they pour money into the offering. It’s amazing. It’s astounding – always more than we sort of budget, always more than we seem to need. And then God takes that money and we expand ministry, and expand ministry, and expand ministry, because they understand this principle.
You’re going to have a whole life ahead of you to do this. Your life will be so full of joy, so full of blessing, because Jesus said this in Luke 6: “Give, and it shall be – ” what? “ – given unto you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” That means packed full. Your life is going to be rich, rich on every level.
Paul, the apostle to the Corinthians, said, “Sow sparingly, reap sparingly.” Throw a few seeds in the ground, get a little crop. Throw a lot of seeds in the ground, you get a big crop. Your harvest, your spiritual harvest, is in proportion to what you sow. And he looked at those poor Macedonians and he basically says “out of their poverty, they have given generously, they have sown bountifully, and they are reaping bountifully.” He talking about how God uses money to advance the kingdom. And then he said, “By the way, the fact that they gave so much put them in a place for God to repay them.”
This is a good time in your life because there’s so much material temptation in the world to think about what you want to do with your money. And if what motivates you is the advance of the kingdom and someday stepping on the shore of heaven and being greeted by a large number of people that you have never met, but who have come to Christ because you made an investment; and by that, you have earned eternal friends. That is one of the wonders of heaven that’s really not talked about much, this very obscure parable.
One of the delights of heaven: it’s going to be great to meet family, it’s going to be great to see my parents, it’s going to be wonderful to see some of the church history figures – apostles, prophets. But what is going to be a special joy is to arrive in heaven and realize that there are people there who heard the gospel, believed the gospel because I invested this filthy lucre, this temporal commodity in the proclamation of the gospel.
Then in verse 10, just to kind of wrap it up, He says, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful in much.” What’s the very little thing He’s talking about? Money. Money is insignificant, it is small, it isn’t in itself anything. It is a medium of exchange. But if you’re faithful in how you handle that little thing, you’ll be blessed, and you will be faithful in much.
What is He saying? He’s saying you can’t just say this: “Well, if I had more, I’d give more. If I had more, I’d give more. I don’t have much money. I’m a student, I get a little bit. I don’t have very much.” And our Lord says, “If you’re faithful in the very little, then you’d be faithful in the much. If you’re unrighteous in the very little that you have, you’re unrighteous also in the much,” because it’s not how much you have, it’s your heart, right? It’s your heart. It’s not about the amount, it’s your heart. And so if you have not in faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth – ” verse 11 “ – then you’re going to miss out on the true riches which are spiritual riches.”
And then a final thought in verse 12: “If you haven’t been faithful in the use of that which is another’s –” Now what is He saying there? The steward in the story was using his master’s resources, his master’s money. And it’s the same with us. Everything you posses belongs to God.
Some people say, “You need to give a tenth to God and that’s His.” It’s all His. It’s all His. Money is a test of faithfulness. Money is a test of faithfulness. Money is a test of where your heart is. Money is a test of your heavenly citizenship. And if you have not been faithful in that which belongs to God, who will give you that which is your own, you forfeit blessing.
If you want your life to be rich and full and complete and blessed, then look at your money as a divine stewardship. It’s not yours, it belongs to Him. It is God who gives you the power to get wealth. It all belongs to God. If you use it to purchase friends for eternity, you’ll have the eternal blessing of being welcomed into heaven by those that money has been used to reach. If you begin when you have very little and prove your faithfulness when you have little, you will continue to be faithful when you have much. If you do this with your money, the Lord will entrust you with spiritual riches. And if you understand that everything you posses is a stewardship because it all belongs to God, it all belongs to God, then He will give you something that will belong to you – and I think that’s eternal reward. It’s an eternal perspective.
You’re going to go through your life. Money’s going to be an issue. You’re going to be thinking about it every day. You’re going to be thinking about what to do with it, what you want to do with it, what you desire. You’re even going to go beyond the money you have in your possession. You’re going to get credit cards and you can spend money you don’t have on things you don’t need, and you can bury yourself in debt. Or, you can see this stewardship for what it is.
And then a final closing comment in verse 13: “You can’t serve God and money. You can’t have two masters. You’ll either hate one and love the other; be devoted to one and despise the other.
It isn’t as if this discussion about money is just sort of picking one thing in life. This really goes to the heart of life. This goes to the heart of life. This goes to the heart of what you want, what you desire, what you long for that money brings to you. So it is at the very core of your life.
What are you surrounding yourself with in life? What are you buying? Are you buying things that perish or are you purchasing friends for eternity? Do you understand that whatever you have isn’t yours, it’s God’s, and you’re only a steward of it? Do you really desire the spiritual riches that the Lord promises to those who are faithful with their material riches? Do you want that eternal reward? Decide whether you’re going to serve God with your money or serve yourself with your money. Kingdom citizens handle their possessions, their money, very differently.
So in this story, the Lord is trying to tell us that sinners are shrewd about using their money for the limited future they have. We need to be wise as sons of light about using our money for the unlimited and eternal blessing that awaits us. Bow with me in prayer.
There’s no way we can misunderstand what we’ve read this morning and looked at. There’s no escaping it. But, Lord, this isn’t some duty that is burdensome. This is the path of blessing, the path of joy, the path of peace. This is the way of heaven.
Lord, help us to love You, not money; to desire what is spiritual; to look to an eternal reward; to do so by not getting caught up in the lusts of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life; not being consumed with the splendors of this world that is passing away. Help us to know that everything we will ever possess belongs to You. It should be used as a stewardship for eternal blessing.
I pray for these young people, Lord, that they may be given the wonderful privilege of being used, not only personally to communicate the gospel, personally to live the gospel, personally to lead somebody to Christ, but that their resources now and through their lives might purchase many friends to welcome them when they enter the Heavenly City. Work Your work in their hearts we pray, in Christ’s name. Amen.