A Good Lesson From a Bad Example

Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  45:26
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Introduction: In the passage before us today Jesus proceeds to tell a parable about a dishonest manger. Although this manager is dishonest and serves as a bad example, Jesus uses his bad example to teach us some GOOD lessons.
We see good and bad examples everyday. We need discernment to learn from the examples that we see. Jesus uses this bad example to teach us some really good lessons. Although Jesus is not endorsing this man’s bad behavior, He is teaching us we can learn something from this behavior. This parable is like an episode of “What Not to Wear” but instead of dealing with clothing Jesus is dealing with stewardship. A good definition of stewardship is simply taking what God has entrusted us with and using it wisely.
So let’s dive right in and let’s read the entire passage, Luke 16:1-18...
Scripture Introduction: In the parable before us Jesus tells His disciples the story of a wealthy man who had a steward who managed his financial affairs. This type of manager would be similar to our modern day financial planner (TBKC, p. 246). The manager was accused of wasting the owner’s possessions. This was an accusation of incompetence and dishonesty (Teach the Text, p. 261). The manager knows he is going to be fired and he has no idea what he is going to do when he is terminated from this position. He doesn’t think he is strong enough to do manual labor and he is too ashamed to beg for help, so he comes up with a very ingenious plan. He decides to go to those who owe his master money and reduce their debts in hopes that when he is fired these people will take him in and take care of him. He hopes that because he has done them a favor, they in turn will do him a favor.
Although this man was a bad steward and although this man cheated his owner out of money and was quite dishonest, there are some good things we can learn from his bad example. I want us to notice three of those things this morning.
First of all...

Remember to Use Things, Not People

First, he used his employer. He took advantage of his employer and was not being a good steward of the resources he had been entrusted with.
Second, he used his power and influence to reduce the debts of those that owed his employer, but ultimately he was just doing so to look out for himself. Once again he was using people for selfish, self-centered reasons.
Application & Illustration:
It is important for us, as Christ followers to remember, that we have been called to live at a higher standard than the rest of the world! We haven’t been called to love things and use people, but rather we have been called to use things and love people. Here are a few verses that remind us to be good stewards of the THINGS God has blessed us with so that we might honor Him and bless others:
Acts 20:35 ESV
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
1 Peter 4:10 ESV
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
1 John 3:16–18 ESV
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
How are YOU doing with this? Remember the Bible doesn’t teach, “You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours, but rather it teaches us to scratch the backs of those who have no arms.” We aren’t to look at people as a number, or as a dollar sign, or as a bridge to get where we want to go, we are to look at people as individuals created in the image of God and realize God expects us, as Christ followers, to represent Him well!
The second truth I think we learn from this passage is...

Take Care of the Pennies & the Dollars Will Take Care of Themselves

Notice again Jesus’ words in Luke 16:10-12. Many times people think small things are not important. They assume because something is small or insignificant that it really doesn’t matter what we do with it or how we handle it. However, Jesus reveals to us that the small things are actually used by God as a TEST of our FAITHFULNESS!
If we are faithful with the pennies we will also be faithful with the dollars, but if we are dishonest with the pennies we will also be dishonest with the dollars. Not only that, but Jesus also reveals that if we can’t be trusted to use temporary, earthly riches appropriately then why would we be entrusted “true riches?” If we can’t be trusted to take care of someone else’s property then why would someone expect that we will take care of what belongs to us?
It is important for you and I to understand we are simply “stewards” or “managers” of what God chooses to give us. Every penny that has ever passed through your fingers is a gift from God. Every second you have ever lived is a gift from God. We want more money and more time, but how are we using what He has already given us? For instance...
Scripture calls on us to “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16).
Ephesians 5:16 ESV
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
What if you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86,000 that carried over no balance from day to day...Allowed you to keep no cash in your account, and every evening cancelled whatever part of the amount you failed to use during the day, what would you do? Draw out every cent every day, of course, and use it to your advantage! Well, you have such a bank, and its name is TIME! Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it rules off as lost whatever of this you failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balances, it allows no overdrafts. Each day it opens a new account with you.
If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against tomorrow.
Why would we expect God to keep giving us more time and more money if we are abusing, wasting or misusing what He had already given?
1 Corinthians 4:2
1 Corinthians 4:2 ESV
Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
We are reminded that God wants us to simply be FAITHFUL with what we already HAVE! Are you FAITHFUL with the time God has given you? Are you FAITHFUL with the money God has given you or do you find yourself squandering it away or gambling it away in hopes to attain more.
I’ve had so many people tell me, “Preacher if I get that inheritance or if I win the lottery the church will never have to worry about a building.” God doesn’t want us to live in the world of “what ifs” as it relates to our time and money! The “what ifs” may never happen. GOD EXPECTS US TO BE FAITHFUL WITH WHAT WE HAVE, NOT ALWAYS PLANNING TO BECOME FAITHFUL WITH WHAT WE ONE DAY MIGHT HAVE!
Read verses Luke 16:10-12 again!
Luke 16:10–12 ESV
“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. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
When are YOU going to start being FAITHFUL with the time, the money, the talents, the gifts, the family, the resources God has given you? The answer is not “when I get more” because if we aren’t faithful with the pennies we won’t be faithful with the dollars. The answer is not tomorrow because tomorrow may never come. The answer is not to sit around and sulk over past mistakes and looking back with regret. The answer is to start being faithful TODAY!
Finally we see...

Idolatry and Christianity are Mutually Exclusive

Remember that part of Jesus’ audience were the Pharisees. We find in verse 14 that the Pharisees were “lovers of money.” We know from other Scriptures that the “love of money is the root of all evil” so Jesus had something else He wants to address about this subject. Notice again what he says in Luke 16:13!
Luke 16:13 ESV
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.”
As I was doing some research about this verse I found something very interesting. For instance once commentary notes:
"Serve" is literally "be a slave of," and one cannot be wholly "owned" by two slave owners...this sums up the theme of the priority of God over any earthly interests... (Teach the Text, p. 262)
God and the love of money, which is idolatry, are mutually exclusive. Love for money will drive one away from God (1 Timothy 6:10)...
1 Timothy 6:10 ESV
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
When you love God as you should, money will not be the primary concern of your life. However, if money becomes your idol, God will never be the primary concern of your life! That, by the way, is not only true of money, but I think it’s true of everything! Anything we love more than God, whether it be a person, a hobby, a career or anything else will hinder us from making God the PRIMARY concern of our lives!
James Packer says that idolatry comes in many forms. For the OT Israelites it was the Canaanite gods that led them down the road of gluttony, drunkenness and ritual prostitution. For us today it may be the gods of sex, money or food. The god of self. The gods of pleasure, possessions, and climbing the corporate ladder. It may be sports, business or even family. Indeed the list of idols is endless.
For anything that anyone allows to run his life becomes his “god” . . . In the matter of life’s basic loyalty, temptation is a many-headed monster.
So who or what “runs your life?” As the song says, “you’re going to serve somebody.” Does the God of the Bible run your life? Can you honestly say that you love Him with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind? Is He your king? Is He your master? Is He your Lord? Someone or something is and I can assure YOU based upon experience, based upon the Word of the living God and based upon the testimony of millions He is the best, most gracious, most wonderful, most sacrificing, most caring, most loving Lord and Master you can ever have.
So in conclusion

Concluding Applications

Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You
It is VITALLY important to understand that the ENEMY is the one who wants you to love things and use people. However, God wants you to love people and use things. The man in the parable used both things and people to his advantage. We have been called to a higher calling and we should recognize that God has given us things to use for His glory and people to love for His glory! We are no longer our own, we belong to Him, we’ve been bought with a price!
Remember the Large Oak was Once a Tiny Acorn
We cannot expect God to grow a tree if we keep wasting all of the tiny seeds. God has given us, tiny, miniscule seeds sometimes. We think because they are tiny and seemingly insignificant they are unimportant. However, He wants us to plant the seed, cultivate the seed and water the seed and we can sit back and watch Him produce a harvest beyond our imagination!
However, the opposite is true. If we despise the “day of small things” and if we are not faithful in the things that most people think are insignificant and do not matter, then He knows we will not be faithful in the big things.
If a person doesn’t tithe on a dollar they probably will not tithe on a $100. If a person isn’t faithful with the little God has given them, they aren’t going to be faithful if they win the Publisher’s Clearing House!
Let me also say that it is the “little foxes” that spoil the vines! Too often people do not deal with “little problems” in their marriages, in their families and in their lives and before you know it, it has festered and grown into a HUGE mess!
Who Is Your Daddy?
You are going to serve someone. You are going to serve something. There is only ONE Master who is worthy! There is only ONE King who left His throne and instead of asking YOU to die for Him, He came and died for YOU!
Today I leave you with the same challenge Joshua left with his people in Joshua 24:14-15
Joshua 24:14–15 ESV
“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Today do you need to come to God and REPENT of the way you have been USING people and LOVING things? It’s very easy to fall into this trap. If we were honest today many of us would have to confess to this sin and for some of us it has become so natural that we do it without even thinking. But today God has spoken to your heart about the way you have been treating your classmates, your co-workers, your spouse, your children, your parents and today you need to come clean with God and allow Him to start teaching you how to “USE THINGS AND LOVE PEOPLE.”
What are you doing with the PENNIES? What are you doing with those little ACORNS God has put in your basket? Don’t expect God to give you an Oak tree if you are unwilling to plant the acorn!
Will you answer Joshuas challenge today? Will you choose to serve the Lord?
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