FROM THE 'DEEP' END: Money manager
I’ve done some pretty bone-headed things with my money. Who hasn’t? When you’ve got money in your pocket that you didn’t have before, and you’re thinking of ways to use it, it’s hard to always think about the long term.
A few years ago when the economy was doing well, I had some extra money in my pocket and thought the best way to spend this money was to buy a nice fishing boat. It seemed like a great use of my money until the economy went south. Then that boat wasn’t a source of joy — now it was a financial burden. I ended up selling the boat and I learned am important lesson about long term effects of unwise spending habits.
Money makes people do crazy things. It’s so easy to get into debt that you have to wonder what makes people use money so unwisely. The Bible is actually full of scriptures about how to handle your finances, and Jesus connected the issues of God and money all the time because He understood the connection that possessions have with our hearts. In fact, in Jesus’ parables, money was the most common theme.
One of these parables deals with a sly money manager and it catches Jesus’ audience off guard. Through the story of this fairly deceitful manager, He explains a truth about the way God views wealth.
In Luke 16 Jesus explains how this money manager’s boss was upset with his performance and was getting ready to fire him. His boss basically tells him to tie up all his business dealings and then see himself out. Jesus goes on to say, “The manager said 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— I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses”
He goes on to explain that on his last day, the money manager gathers up his boss’ debtors and cuts all their debts down, that way when he lost his job, those debtors would remember him and welcome him into their homes. Surprisingly the boss in the story, who everyone in the audience can recognize as representing God, doesn’t get mad. Instead, “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.”
Everyone hearing Jesus tell this story thought He was crazy, but it wasn’t the manager’s deceitfulness that He was commending; it was his foresight in using the money he had to secure his future. He goes on to say, “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
Jesus isn’t talking about using wealth as way to gain friends who are impressed with wealth. He’s talking about bringing friends into eternity, using your wealth to point people toward God. People who don’t think about eternity and only think about the short term will waste their money on themselves. Those who look at wealth the way God sees it will use to benefit those around them. They see it as a tool and a way to invest in someone else’s life now so that they can know God forever. How you use your stuff really does have eternal consequences. It’s less to do with how much wealth you have and more to do with how you use it.
Jesus goes on to say after this parable.
Vs. 10-12“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with very much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in 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?”
People consume their way into financial ruin, but I have never seen someone live their way generously into financial ruin. All of us have a little bit of time and a little bit of money. What are you going to do with it? You can either spend it on yourself or you can invest it and make friends for yourself in heaven.
Pastor Eric Partin is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Destin and can be reached at email@example.com.