USE WORLDLY WEALTH TO GAIN FRIENDS
Key Verse: 16:9
“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
In Luke’s gospel Ch15, we have learned three beautiful parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the forgiving Father. The last parable taught us the heart of God for sinners. Just like the father, God is waiting for sinners to come with repentance. God is ready to forgive their sins, and to restore them as a kingdom and priests. We are living in the materialistic world which money talks. People love money and serve money. And everyone wants to know the best way to invest their money to get the best return. Here Jesus gives us the best investment advice. Look at the key verse 9. “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Let us learn from Jesus how to use/invest our worldly wealth. Investing our temporal worldly wealth to gain friends, we may have the eternal dwellings in the kingdom of God.
First, the parable of the shrewd, dishonest manager (1-8a).
People had gathered around Jesus to hear him. They were his disciples, the tax collectors and the sinners and also the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. After telling three parables to the religious leaders, Jesus now turns his attention to his disciples. Look at verse 1. “Jesus told his disciples; “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.” Who is the main figure in this parable? “Manager” A manager had authority over all of the master’s resources to make profit. He should be loyal, faithful, diligent, creative and prosperous. However, this manager in the parable is dishonest and corrupt. Instead of increasing his master’s wealth, he was wasting the master’s possessions.
We do not know how he wasted the possessions. But the word “wasting” here in Greek means “squandering.” He might spend tons of money on himself like the prodigal son wasted in his wild living. What is the consequence?
Look at verse 2. “So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’” Before long, the master heard about the manager’s wasting practices. Without any investigation, the master called the manager and dismissed him, but required an account of the stewardship before he left. Simply, he was fired. Do you know even the president of South Korea has been fired for her mismanagement and ill-practices for her selfish again? What would you do if you were fired today? What did the manager do at this critical moment? Look at verse 3. He thought to himself, “What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg…” This manager understood his situation and limitations precisely – Not overestimate nor underestimate, and this drove him to find a creative solution.
Look at verse 4-7. He called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?” The debtor replied, “Nine hundred gallons of olive oil.”
This would be worth about $18,000 in our time. The manager told him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty” (6). Wow! Half the debt was cancelled just like that! The debtor saved $9,000. No doubt he would be grateful to the manager. The manager asked another debtor, “How much do you owe?” “A thousand bushels of wheat,” he replied. This would be worth about $8,000 today. The manager reduced his bill to eight hundred bushels, a savings of $1,600. Again, the debtor would be most grateful to the manager. In this way, the manager earned favor from many debtors.
Then how did the master respond? Look at verse 8a. “The master commanded the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.” The master’s reaction was truly shocking. Shouldn’t the master rebuke him and took him the court? Instead, the master actually commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. In fact, this is the way business is done in the world. Some have said that business is basically cheating and being cheated. Then, what can we learn from him? What is Jesus’ teaching? Should we be dishonest or corrupted? Should we be corn artists like this manager?
Look at verse 8b. “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.” Jesus made his manager as an example for all of us. What we should learn from the manager, the people of the world, is Not his dishonest, but his shrewdness. We can say many negative things about this manager; He was wasteful and dishonest. He was lazy and proud. But we have to give him credit for one thing; he was shrewd. The master must have been surprised by the manager’s shrewd dealing and commended the manager because he knew how to look after himself overcoming the adverse situation. “Shrew” means “acute in perception and sound in judgment / keen awareness / sense of practical.” Look how he assessed his situation correctly! In the time of crisis, many people overestimate their abilities and do something foolish or useless. Others underestimate their abilities, fall into despair and do nothing. But he assessed his situation correctly. Some people do not accept the reality. Instead, they began to make excuses, justify themselves, or even blame others. But he admitted the truth about him – lazy and proud. In desperate situations, people can be overwhelmed by their feelings. He could have fallen into depression and become mentally ill. Or, overwhelmed by shame, he could have committed suicide. Instead, he made the best decision he could and immediately began to act.
Look how much effort he put into secure his future security. Look how he decisively put his plan in act. How shrewd he was dealing with his own kind. Look how he become courageous, creative and decisive in the time of crisis! He used something he could not keep to gain future benefits. He turned his adversity into opportunity. People of this world are like this dishonest manager. They are hardworking, bold, and very smart about investing for their future, though they may be dishonest. They study hard, work hard, save, calculate, assess, and predict in order to achieve their aims. They sacrifice their times, energy, even their health and relationship for their future security. They invest in savings, stocks, retirement funds, and properties. They buy all kinds of insurances. They are really serious about future even though they do not know what is coming.
Then, as the people of the light, how much do we invest our time, money and effort for the kingdom of God? Do we really take seriously the kingdom of God? How seriously do we deal with Bible Reading, Daily Bread, 1:1 Bible Study, and disciple making? Some might ask, “Why are you so serious? Take easy!” I know that people of this world are serious about their school studies and exams so they put all their effort and time by any means. Why? For their future depends on these. Jesus wants the people of the light to be shrewd in doing the work of God. The people of light should be serious about 1:1 Bible Study, Sunday worship service, Daily Bread, and putting the word of God in practice. If we treat the word of God like a joke, then who would accept it as the absolute truth of God? If we consider Bible study like a hobby, who would do the Bible Study seriously?
As you know, I am not a shrewd manager. I might be “OK” or “Easy Manager.” Working together with one of God’s servants, I have learned his simple but serious attitude toward the work of God. At first I thought why he was so serious and made big deals out of small matters. He is really like shrewd manager, putting all his effort to bring all possible creative ways to challenge one’s sin problem. He did this because he took the word of God seriously. Through him, I repented of my “Whatever” or “OK” attitude. I should take one word of God seriously. Let’s seriously prepare 2017 Easter Bible Conference. First of all, let’s seriously deal with campus fishing and 1:1 Bible Study.
Second, applications from the parable (8b-13).
In this part, Jesus teaches what exactly we believers should do as the application of this parable. There are three things to do. First, Use worldly wealth to gain friends. Look at verse 9. “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Here “worldly wealth” refers to more than just money. It also includes time, talents, and other resources that are entrusted to us from God. We are simply stewards of God and his resources. Even though these are so precious, the worldly wealth do not last long; we cannot hold on to them forever. No matter how much money we have; no matter how big and luxurious houses we have, all will be gone. When we die we cannot take anything. Paul said, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1Ti 6:6-7). Worldly wealth cannot do anything for us after we reach the grave. It will be worthless in the world to come. Then why dose God entrust us worldly wealth? Definitely it is not to store up the wealth for ourselves, nor to hold in a bank account and watch it to grow. Then why? Again let us pay attention to Jesus’ words, “… Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” “Use worldly wealth for eternal dwellings!” It is the best investment because we gain something eternal from what is temporary. We can use our worldly wealth, especially our money, for our eternal dwellings. God gives us the worldly wealth with clear purpose to make friends and bring them into the kingdom of God. One young rich fool stored up all his wealth to enjoy his easy life. However when God took his life, his wealth has no value, no use to him. Unless we use worldly wealth to gain friends, such worldly wealth has no use, no value. So Jesus said, “Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves.”
Who are our friends that we use worldly wealth to gain? First of all, we must gain Jesus as our friend. Jesus is our eternal friend and our Lord. Jesus called his disciples friends rather than servants (Jn 15:15). Jesus is our true friend whose body was torn on the cross and who blood was shed for sinners like us. In order to gain Jesus as his Savior friend, we must invest our worldly wealth. To gain Jesus as their friend and Savior, the disciples left everything and followed Jesus. Later they even gave their own life to gain Jesus. To gain Jesus, St. Paul lost everything. He confessed in Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Let us invest our wealth, time, youth in order to gain Christ our true friend. In fact, Jesus does not need our money. However, there is way we can use our worldly wealth to make Jesus our friends. In the parable of sheep and goats, Jess says, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in… I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”(MT25:35,40) We can actually serve Jesus by serving people.
What we do with money is matter. How we use money shows our spiritual value system. Let’s suppose that suddenly one million dollars was transferred to your bank account on the condition that you must decide immediately how to use it. What would you decide? Your decision would reflect your value system. When we value people more than money, we can use money to gain friends. But if we love money most, we will keep it by any means. If we are slaves to a sinful habit, we will use our money to indulge in it. To use money properly, our hearts may need to be set free by the gospel. It is amazing that if we invest temporary wealth we can gain eternal blessing. This is the best investment strategy. So let’s use our worldly wealth, in the short time we have it, to win friends for Jesus. Thank God for Jesus who has made this sinner his friend. It was costly. He had to come to this earth and give up heaven. To invite this sinner into eternal dwellings was also costly for Jesus. He died on the cross for my sins. 2Co 8:9 proclaims, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” When we consider how Jesus gave up so much to make friends of sinners such as me, then we can see how to use our riches to make friends of sinners. We can offer our time and money to serve the weak, the lowly and even the sinful.
Second, be trustworthy and honest. Look at verse 10. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (10). Many of us have prayed to be wise and faithful managers in this mission field. Trustworthiness and honesty are important person’s character to be wise and faithful manager. Some people are waiting to be entrusted with something big in order to prove that they are trustworthy and honest. So they are careless in handling small things. They say, “Trust me with something big and you will see how faithful I am.” But those who are not trustworthy with very little will not be trustworthy with much. So we should learn the importance of being faithful in small things. Then we can be trusted with much bigger things. God wants his servants to be faithful with very little and be honest with very little. Because Jesus wants us to be people whom God can trust with his true riches.
Look at verses 11-12. “So if you have not been trustworthy with handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” Here ‘worldly wealth’ or ‘someone else’s property’ refers to money. ‘True riches’ or ‘property of your own’ refers to the kingdom of God, the eternal life, the fruits of the Holy Spirit. How can we present or prove ourselves to God that we are worthy to take care of his true riches? It is to be trustworthy of our worldly wealth that are given to us - such as time, energy, talents, money and even life itself. Then God will bless us with the true riches, the kingdom of God; we will be entrusted with heavenly reward. On the other hand, those who are not faithful and honest with worldly wealth, will not be entrusted with heavenly reward.
We want to have much. We want to have our won. We want to have the true riches. Then look around and find the little things given to us. God has opened up all kinds of opportunity for us to invest our resources such as serving one sheep faithfully, reading bible, making offerings and tithe, playing music instruments, going out campus, serving guests, and cleaning up center. Do you remember the parable of the ten minas? The rich nobleman who went off to a distant country called his servants together and gave each of them a certain amount to invest. Those who are faithful, honest and diligent earn ten more or five more. They are rewarded with a great compliment from their master and given ten cities or five cities. “Well done, my good servants. Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.” Do you know what the master did to the third servant who just buried the mina? He called him “worthless.” He took the money away from him and gave it to the servant who had made the most money. Let us be trustworthy and honest with little things.
Third, love God and serve God. Finally Jesus come down to the very simple but main point. Look at verse 13. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (13). To be wise and faithful manager is not the matter of talents nor skill. It is the matte of love. It is the matter of heart. Why cannot we love both God and money? The reason is simple. We only have one heart. Why should not we love money? 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and have pierced themselves with many griefs.” If we love money, we will suffer from all kinds of pain and grief and eventually abandon God. But when we love God only, we are free to use money for the kingdom’s work. To be a wise manager, we must love God and serve God only. How we use money and how we handle the worldly wealth indicates whom we love and serve. Who is your master? We must use money to serve God and to gain friends for the kingdom of God.
“Use the worldly wealth to gain friends.” We must shrewdly prepare for the day we stand before God’s judgment by using the worldly wealthy. We shall stand there without a cent, without a bank account, without property, without anything to recommend us, without reputation, with nothing. Then only things that will count in our favor is the testimony of our friend, Jesus. Let’s use our worldly wealth to gain many friends for Jesus.
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