I.Our Life Together: Stewardship

I.Our Life Together: Stewardship

I.Our Life Together: Stewardship

Luke 16:1–17 (ESV)

Sunday, March 8, 1998: “Our Well-driller called to make an appointment to drill our well. He wanted to know if I was going to use a Water Witch (also called dowsing). I told him that I was a Christian, and that I would not use a water witch.

With sneering skepticism he warned me that all of his clients used a water witch and implied that it might cost me a lot of extra money if didn’t use one. He had drilled 8,000 wells, and in his experience I might need to drill several times,and the cost was $3,000 per drill.

As he said this, I remembered the story of my neighbor (Rick Mason).

I told him I would call back about the water witch question. As I thought about this I felt fearful and anxious. I didn’t know what to do.

When he called I was reading the prophet, Isaiah. When I hung up I resumed my reading. This is the next passage that my eyes fell upon.

11 “The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people….

“Do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. 13 The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, 14 and he will be a sanctuary…”

I called him back and said no Water Witch.

We met in our field at 9:00 AM the next Tuesday. With great skepticism he waved toward the field and said “where do you want me to drill?”

I had no idea. So I just pointed to the middle of the field and said, “how about there.”

I went into my office. Two hours later the phone rang. “You won’t believe what happened. We found in excess of100 gallons a minute at thirty feet,” the driller reluctantly admitted. “My meter will only test up to 100 gallons a minute, but you have a lot more water than that. You have enough water for an entire development.”

None of my neighbors have more than 15 gals per minute, and none of that water is withinwithin 200 feet.

The point of this story is that God will test our faith in his willingness and sufficiency to take care of us financially. During the testing we will be tempted to fear circumstances and compromise his will. But if we hold on to God’s goodness by faith, he will show himself faithful.

This is the fifth sermon in a series called “Our Life Together.”

The first sermon was about the gospel.

The second sermon was about Servanthood/Love.

The third sermon was about the importance of the Local Church.

The fourth sermon was about Evangelism.

Today’s sermon is about financial stewardship.

The point of this series is that everything we do as Christians is a response to the gospel––what God has done for us. Everything we do as Christians should take place in a gospel environment, an environment of grace which gives us freedom to fail. That includes how we handle our money.

In today’s text the dishonest manager is getting ready to be fired. He is a shrewd man. He knows how to work the system. So he uses his position and his master’s wealth for his own gain. He goes to his master’s creditors and cuts their bills in half. He does this so that they will treat him well after he loses his job.

8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.

Jesus is not endorsing dishonesty. Rather, he is endorsing spiritual shrewdness. Like the dishonest manager he wants Believers to use our money to get what really matters––“True Riches.”

9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

We are not talking aboutusing our money to buy our Salvation. Salvation isa free gift given to those that believe the gospel. We are talking about the purchase of what Jesus calls, “True Riches,” i.e.spiritual experience. Within the family of God, God has favorites, those that influence him more than others, those that enjoy True Riches more than others. Think of David, Peter, James and John, the apostle Paul, etc.

Another way to say this is that God rewards us according to our faith. Our deeds reveal our faith. One of the most important deeds is how we use our material wealth. The point of this parable is that money is a tool for obtaining “True Riches.”

A.Main Point: Use Money to Buy True Riches

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?

1.Definition of “True Riches”

In this life:

Illumination: “Riches of his kindness and forbearance” Rom 2:4; “Riches of his glory” Rom 11:33, etc.

Spiritual Experience: Paul prays that we would have the experiential knowledge of “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” Eph 1:18

Assurance: “Riches of full assurance and understanding” Col 2:2

Intimacy with God: “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col 2:3)

Faith: “Rich in Faith” (James 2:5); “Faith more precious than Gold (1 Pet 1:7)

Converted Children. Children that marry well.

The Fear of the Lord (Pr 2:1-5)

Love, Joy, and Peace (Gal. 5:22).

Wurmbrand: “In our darkest hours of torture the Son of man came to us, making the prison walls shine like diamonds and filling the cells with light. Somewhere far away, were the torturers below us in the sphere of the body. But the spirit rejoiced in the Lord. We would not have given up this joy for that of kingly palaces.”[1]

In the Life To Come: Enhanced Reward. Paul pursued true riches. “To Live is Christ. To die is gain.”

Jesus pursued “true riches.” “For the Joy set before him he endured the cross.”

Jesus exhorts us to pursue “true riches.” “Lay up for yourselves Treasures in Heaven” (Matt. 6:20).

The Holy Spirit comes to give us a taste for those riches. He is “the guarantee (down payment) of our inheritance until we attain possession of it” (Eph 1:14).

Faithfulness with money is a “means” to true riches.

2.How to Bankrupt True Riches

When money becomes an Idol it will bankruptus of true riches.

Lets talk about idolatry. It is the great Sin. The Bible mentions it more frequently than any other sin.

For example, think about the Ten Commandments. They begin and end with prohibitions to idolatry.

1st Commandment: “You shall have no strange gods before me.”

10th Commandment: “You shall not covet.”

Paul: “All covetousness is idolatry” (Eph 5:5).

In addition, idolatry motivates all disobedience to God.

Money is one of the most common idols. It is the daily idol that Americans are most tempted to worship. You cannot serve God and money at the same time. Any attempt to do so will bankrupt your spiritual bank account.

Luke 16:13 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”(Matt. 16:24).

Idols are God-substitutes. What makes them so potent is that they promise to give us what only God can ultimately deliver. What empowersthem is the conviction that theycan deliver“True Riches.” Here are some examples––

God promises us security, but so does Money.

God promises us ultimate status, but so does Money.

God promises us ultimate happiness, but so does Money. (Bob Dylan Anecdote).

Both God and money promise us these benefits. Here is the question. Who is telling the truth? Who do you believe has the power to deliver? Remember, faith is the “Conviction” of things not see” (Heb. 11).

We serve money because we “believer” that it alone will give us true happiness. Money deceives those who lack faith in God’s power and promise to provide. Money deceives those with noappetite for true riches. Growth in godliness is an increasing appetite for true riches. (Anecdote: Sarah and the Snicker’s Bar).

Eight symptoms of idolatry:

1. Anxiety about money. Matt 6:22 “For where your treasure is your heart will be also.”

2. Disobedience. Idolatry motivates disobedience. Something has become more important than God. When we disobey God it is always to please and serve our real god.

Anecdote: My brother and the lighting Contract. (1 Cor. 6:1-5).

3. Impulsive spending.

4. Failure to tithe. Failure to tithe can be a sign of idolatry. “Tithe” means 10%. There are only a few reasons why a person would not tithe, and none of them are positive.

Don’t trust God…

Covetousness…

Don’t know where my money is going.

Don’t trust the local church leaders…

Don’t believe in the local church. Your financial priority is missions, or Campus Crusade, or a seminary. If this is you we are glad you are giving. However, we would encourage you to think hard about your ecclesiology.

5.Inordinate Debt. (Credit cards, Mortgages, etc.)

6. Working Moms…

7. Ridiculing this subject in your heart

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and theyridiculed him.

8. Self Justification

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.

3.How to Build True Riches

The financial world talks about building a portfolio of investments. I want to talk about how to build a portfolio of true riches.

a)Rejoice in Material Wealth

We are not ascetics. We are not afraid of money. Money is not the root of all evil. “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). On the sixth day of creation we have this important verse. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was VeryGood” (Gen 1:31).

b)Be Faithful with Money

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.

Jesus considered money a “little thing.” By that he did not mean money is a small or unimportant part of our life. It is not. He meant that it is not very important to our ultimate happiness. That is why he entrusted the money bagto Judas.

What does it mean to be faithful? It means some system for budgeting your money. A budget is a pre-thought out plan for how I am going to spend my money. It requires advance thinking about how you are going to spend, and a system of follow up to see if you actually accomplished the plan.

(If you need help setting up a budget, Ken Fry is setting up a budgeting class).

A faithful budget plan means the first check goes to God. It is intentional. It says God is first in my life.

The second check goes to savings. I am loving my spouse by saving so that I can take care of her in our old age. If I don’t save emergencies will fore me into consumer debt.

Buy insurance (life, disability, health) to give your dependents peace of mind.

c)Repent of all Financial Idolatry

When the symptoms of idolatry surface (fear, anxiety, stinginess) repent. Practice Contentment. Practice Gratitude. Thankful people are Content. (Sleeping conditions in Sri Lanka).

Repent each time you are tempted to look to acquisitions for happiness. Put your faith in God instead. Money makes a great servant, but it is a tyrannical master.

d)Live in Gospel Freedom

God wants us to use our money to acquire “true riches.” One means to true riches is faithful stewardship of the money God give us.

Our financial stewardship should be a response to the gospel. Ultimately, servant love should govern the use of our money, the kind of servant love that God showed us when he sent his Son to die on a cross for us.

Accept God’s forgiveness. You are free to fail. Budgets make great servants, but they make terrible masters.

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[1] Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured For Christ, (Old Tappan: Spire, 1969) pg 73