Use your Wealth to Prepare for Heaven
Luke 16 SCC 6/12/16
Major concerns of life like our view of people and use of our money must be managed from a righteous perspective. The Pharisees despised sinners and hoarded money. Luke provides Jesus decisive critique so that we may align ourselves with his understanding.
LIFE IS A STEWARDSHIP FROM GOD WITH PERSONAL ETERNAL RAMIFICATIONS
Verse 1-2: The man in question here is a household manager or steward, one who manages the business of the owner. Because of some bad reports the owner fired him for squandering his possessions. Squandering does not necessarily mean he was being dishonest, it can mean he was just a poor manager, making poor investments. In any case he must wrap things up and find somewhere else to work.
Verse 3-4: His options are not appealing. He must act to clean up the situation if there is any possibility of finding future work with someone. His plan was to create a favorable response from those who owe money so that when he is officially let go one of them will take him in.
Verse 5-7: The unjust steward made friends for himself for his future reference by offering his master’s debtors a reduced financial settlement. He puts a discount program in motion. It is not clear if this benefited the master or not, but it definitely benefited the steward, who now had friends who would welcome him (possibly employ him) after he was dismissed.
Verse 8: He is praised, by his master, and by Jesus, for his shrewdness or wisdom. Once unrighteous he has become shrewd. The point being he was shrewd or wise in that he prepared for his future and we should be wise and prepare for our eternal future.
NB: Jesus is saying that God’s children, who have a heavenly, eternal future, should be as diligent in assessing the long-term effect of their actions as those who do not know God are protecting their earthly well-being. The main point is the theme of Luke, after this life comes judgment. The end justifies the means as long as the end is in heaven. It is wisdom to have such a concern.
Exhortation: Be generous with money v 9. Jesus says, be shrewd, by making [eternal] friends for yourselves by means of the wealth [money] of unrighteousness, so that when [not if] it fails, they (the people you have invested in so that they have eternal treasure) will receive you into the eternal dwellings. Our wealth should not be hoarded or used selfishly but to make friends by being generous. If you know God is watching your stewardship, and you can profit from that eternally, it will make one sensitive to use resources God provides in ways pleasing to him and beneficial to you.
Exhortation: Be faithful with money v 10-12.
Verse 10: He who is faithful in a very little thing [money, or any earthly treasure] is faithful also in much [eternal values]; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing [money] is unrighteous also in much [things that lead to heavenly treasure] 10. The way we handle our responsibilities on earth is the basis for how we will be judged in heaven. Specifically, the way we handle our money is a reflection of how we handle our spiritual life. If you are in debt in one area you probably are in the other also.
Verse 11: If you have not been faithful in [investing eternally with] the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches [the eternal rewards of the kingdom of God] to you? Wealth is called unrighteousness for two reasons, because: (1) it represents value independent from God, and (2) it ties us to this world.
Verse 12: If you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s [the wealth God has allotted you on earth.] who in heaven will give you that which is your own [eternal rewards]? All wealth on earth belongs to God, and he will put it where ever He desires. Hag. 2:8 ‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the LORD of hosts. So it is not a blessing from God but a stewardship from God. Solomon found out that pursuing it was vanity and striving after wind. But when you get eternal rewards, that determines your heavenly situation. The eternal rewards and responsibility truly belong to you. God determines your position in this life, you determine your position in the next life.
Exhortation: Serve God not money v 13. “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money or earthly wealth.” Jesus is not saying we should avoid making money but that we should not serve money. Money should be used to serve God. Something will always be #1 in your life. Find out what that is for you – money, family, financial stability, good health, or God. But here is another way to determine your master. Your master is whatever (or whoever) you perceive (think or believe) to be the one giving you the most. Whatever or whoever you think is giving you the most is your master. If you do not see God as giving you more than anyone else then you will not serve Him. Pharisees did not care 14.
VALUES SHOULD BE INFLUENCED BY THE AUTHORITY OF GODS KINGDOM
1. That includes: that which is highly esteemed among men [pursuing wealth, serving money, and living in luxury] is detestable in the sight of God v 15. Anything that (1) holds you to this earth and (2) creates value independent from God (ie. pride) is detestable in the sight of God.
2. That includes: the Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John (the last OT prophet); since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing [creating] his [own] way into it v 16. That is, many are proclaiming ways to enter the Kingdom of God. Every church argument through history is about who gets to dispense the grace of God.
3. That includes: it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail v 17. This is true for the whole word of God. The Law here is used the way David used it in Psalm 119, the entire written word of God. So this declares the verbal inerrancy of the Bible. Actually it takes it down to every letter of every word.
4. That includes: everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery v 9. He who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery v 10. The point is to respond to, serve and honor the values of God’s kingdom in our personal relationships including marriage.
NB: As you live your life do so on the basis of what is valuable to the kingdom of God. What is valuable there is of ultimate value. One is not to serve creation or its creatures instead.
LEAVE THIS LIFE SO THE SCALES OF JUSTICE ARE BALANCED AGAINST YOU
Verse 19-23: The situation in life for the rich man and Lazarus was a lesson in contrast. One is covered with fine apparel. The other covered with sores. One living in spender. The other eating crumbs and licked by dogs. One died and comforted. The other died and in torment. The way you live this life determines how you will live in the next life.
Verse 24-31: The rich man is told he is in this place of suffering because he had good things and Lazars had bad things during their life on earth v 24-25. The message is good things in this life can mean bad things in the next life and bad things in this life can mean good things in the next life. It’s also impossible to arrange due to a large gulf v 26. Additionally, after being refused comfort in his suffering, the rich man asks Abraham if Lazarus could go back and warn his brothers v 27-28. So apparently someone coming back from the dead would not create faith in those who ignore the scripture v 29-31. (1) Our position after death reflects a judgment on the way we lived. (2) The problem is not wealth (Abraham was also wealthy) the problem is living in luxury, and ignoring the needs of the needy. (3) Sinners go to a place (elsewhere called Sheol or Hades) of suffering while awaiting judgment. (4) The dead cannot contact the living, and it wouldn’t help if they did. The objective is to leave this life with the scales of justice balanced against you, that is that you give more than your receive.
1. We are stewards of whatever wealth God has given us and we will be held accountable for what we do with it. Be generous. Be faithful. Be eternal.
2. Wealth is dangerous. It is called unrighteous because it tends to anchor us to this world and temps us to live in luxury and therefore end up like the rich man in the story.
3. Money is one test of our spiritual condition. We pass the test when we put the money God has
given us into the eternal future of people. The investment of money into the eternal future of ourselves and others is the way to benefit from our temporal wealth for eternal profit.