God's financial management
Reading: Luke 16:1–13
Additional reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
Blanks: manager, welcome, debtors, owe, commended, friends, welcomed, true
Props: four volunteers: a hat for the rich man and a hat for the money manager and two friends, a chair, two papers
Let’s say that there is a good billionaire.
Let’s say that this billionaire gives you a lot of money, and ask you to manage his money for him.
What would you do?
Let’s say that this billionaire wants to hire you as his money manager. Would you like to manage his money?
If yes, how would you invest that money?
Would you put his money to work thinking of 10 and 20 years?
Or would you invest his money just to make a quick profit?
Would you study to find out how to manage money wisely?
Would you study to invest his money to have a good return?
Or would you just save the money in a bank until you find out what to do?
Or would you do your project with that money?
Or would you spend that money for yourself?
Today, Jesus told a strange story:
There was a rich man.
He hired a money manager to take care of his money.
But this money manage didn’t seem to know how to manage money.
He didn’t study to have a better investing strategy.
He didn’t study other good money managers.
He didn’t invest the money thinking of 10 or 20 years of good return.
He didn’t seem to make a good plan for the money.
He just didn’t take care of the money.
It looked like he didn’t want to be a money manager.
He might have wanted to have another career.
Then since his master was a good man, he could have told him.
His boss could help him to find another job based on his interest.
His boss would love to help him finding a right career.
Then he might have been successful and happy.
But this man also had a wrong belief.
He believed that in order to be happy, he needed to cut corners.
He believed only those who cheated and cut corners, succeeded in life.
Because of this wrong belief, he cheated and cut corners.
But he really didn’t need to be cheap like that because he was serving a good boss.
If he just had a good common sense and followed some proper procedures, he could have lived a good life.
His boss would help him and he could have been very happy.
So other managers might have said to him:
“Why do you not think about 10 or 20 years ahead?
Think about a long term consequence.
Think some good thought.
You don’t need to cut corners in order to be happy and successful.
You just need to take good care of what you have.”
But everyday, he cut corners, when he didn’t need to.
He was spending his boss money without much planning.
Then eventually a local newspaper wrote an article about his terrible practices of money managing.
So the rich man came and asked:
“What is this I hear about you?
We are going to investigate your money managing records.
Then we will determine about your future with this company.”
Then this man knew that he would be fired very soon.
He knew what he did.
So the money manager said to himself:
“O boy, I will be fired very soon.
What shall I do now?
I’m not young enough to get a new job.
I'm not strong enough to work in the field.
I'm too proud to beg on the street.
What shall I do?”
Flipping through his boss’ account book, he had another idea to cut corners.
So he said:
“Oh! I know what I need to do.
If I do this, people will welcome me into their homes!”
Then he started to call various people who borrowed money from his master.
He asked them to come to his office.
When the first came, he asked:
“How much do you owe my master?”
“Nine hundred dollars.”
Then he told him:
That doesn't sound right.
Sit down and make it four hundred on your bill.”
Then he asked the second:
“And how much do you owe?”
"A thousand dollars.”
He told him:
That must be a mistake.
Take your bill and make it eight hundred.”
He was on and on like this.
Until the very end, he was using his brain to cut corners.
I guess he really could not serve his good boss any longer, after cheating his boss like this.
He could have used his brain to study how to invest money.
Then he didn’t need to live like this.
Anyway, if you were his boss, what would you do with this sneaky money manager?
How would you deal with this employee?
Of course, you need to fire him.
That is for sure.
But then there is an even more surprising end of the story.
The rich boss praised this manager.
The rich man was like:
What a sneaky way to gain friends!
Let’s give him a big hand.
Isn’t this a great idea or what?”
The boss praised as he gained new friends who would be grateful to him.
His new friends would be kind to him or welcomed him into their home.
The boss seemed happy because this man used his money to gain friends.
What a boss!
What a generous boss!
This is the end of the story.
Can you hear why Jesus is telling from this story?
What can we learn from this story?
Obviously, the rich boss in this story represents God.
God may deal like this with his sneaky money manager who does not believe in God.
What kind of God is this?
Can you understand this God?
God hires many money managers.
God gives his money and wealth to his money managers.
Their responsibility is to take care of God’s resources.
Some money manages take good care of his money.
Some do a good job and utilize God’s resource very well.
When they use well, God knows that they love God.
When they do good job, God knows that they love God.
But some managers would not utilize God’s money very well.
Instead, they may waste God’s resources.
Then God may say.
“If you waste my wealth like that, I will take it away.”
They may say:
“But other people are doing this.
I am just doing what they are doing.”
Then God may say:
“That is not a good answer.
You have a very good brain.
You have enough time and money and so on.
Come up with a better answer.
It is your life.
You need to answer for yourself:
Why do you do what you do with what I have given you?
Why have you used it in that way?”
But let’s think about the strange part of the story again:
When that sneaky money manager used God’s money to gain personal friends, God praised him.
When that money manager was falsely generous with new friends misusing God’s wealth, God was happy.
When that money manager has boldness to carry out his sneaky plan to earn friends, God is happy.
God was ok with it.
It was ok for God to give away like this.
God seems saying:
“At least, he is not wasting my money like before.
At least, he is learning how blessed is to be generous.
He is using my wealth to enrich his relationship with people.”
Telling this strange story, Jesus was also trying to explain what God values more.
God has a lot of money.
God has more money than the Federal Reserve.
God can print more money.
God can create more wealth.
God has unlimited resources of money and power.
So money is not a problem for God.
God wants to use his resources for people.
God creates everything to bless us and free us.
For people, God created the Bible to free them.
For people, God created Sabbath to free them.
For people, God gave Jesus to free us.
For people, God gave his church to free us.
God frees the church to use various resources and opportunities to benefit their friends.
God frees the church to use God’s money to gain friends.
We are free to use God’s blessing to enrich the lives of others.
When we are free to use money like this, we please God in heaven.
In this way, we may use God’s money in God’s way.
We are also God’s spiritual managers.
God has entrusted to us with God’s spiritual wealth.
God's managers also use God’s compassion and forgiveness to make friends.
Then God would be very happy.
This is how we may manage God’s spiritual wealth.
Some people may feel like this because of their sins:
"I am doomed.
How could I be forgiven for what I have done?
God must be very mad at me."
But God’s managers may say:
“Come to God.
Then your are forgiven.
God forgives your debts.
God cancels your debts and guilt.
God will takes care of you.”
When we use this encouraging words, God would be happy, because God wants to give this assurance to them.
God wants to help people like this.
At the church we learn to share spiritual and material blessings with others.
At the church we learn to give what God gives.
The church gives, because God gives.
The church helps people, as God helps.
The church uses their opportunity to help others, as God provides those opportunity to serve God and serve people.
So God gives the Church, God’s words, spiritual gifts, talents, skill, spiritual understanding, intellect, wisdom and creative ideas.
Then various ministries have started from the Church: various medical ministry, school ministry, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army and so on.
God is interested in this kind of works.
But then the church can do this only when she has God’s faith.
The church cannot do anything, if she doesn’t have the faith of Jesus.
If we believe in God, we also understand that God has unlimited money and spiritual resources.
We understand God is unlimited.
We understand God can multiply food, money and everything.
When we understand God, we may use God’s resources to enrich the lives of others.
If we understand God, we can use our gifts that God gives.
If we understand God, we can help the elderly.
If we understand God, we can help those who have not heard the gospel of Jesus.
Jesus also said that in order to live like this, we need to find the narrow path and walk on the narrow road.
Meaning, in order to live like this, we cannot follow what other church is doing.
We need to listen to God and follow God on his narrow road.
We need to listen to God and think with God’s creative ideas.
Only then we may become the friendly church that God uses to bless people.
May God help us to find the narrow path to walk on it.
May we serve God in God’s way.
May we manage well God’s blessings and wealth that are given to us.
Jesus, thank you for giving all the blessings.
Help us to give as you provide for us.
May we be generous with your money so that the world may experience you who are generous.
You provide generously.
Help us to use what you give.
Help us to use your resource to make friends.
Help us to believe God and live accordingly.
May we enrich people’s lives in your name.
May we become your good friend.
In Jesus name, we pray.