Matthew R. Perry

Have You Prepared for Your Future? (Part I)

In Finances, Sermons on June 28, 2007 at 4:23 pm

(Preached at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY, on June 24, 2007. To listen to the sermon via mp3, just click on the link to the side.)

“Have you planned for your future?” How often have we seen advertisements posing this question? We first hear this question as we approach high school graduation. One flyer from a university with an inset picture of a thumbtack says, “Don’t get stuck without a plan … be prepared for your future.” Once you graduate, then you have to prepare for your future through finding gainful employment. Soon, you may consider types of investments you will make to help provide for your children’s college education. Also, do not forget about preparing for retirement. An article I came across said, “Prepare for Your Financial Future: Know What You Can Expect from Social Security.”

Do you feel stress about these matters? Do you have a plan for your future? While the world’s way of thinking may take them to issues such as graduation, jobs, marriages, buying a house, or retirement — I am referring to more important plans — plans that not only deal with our earthly future, but our eternal destiny. Are you using the resources God gives you now to help prepare you for eternity?

This morning, God has us examining a very difficult parable known as The Parable of the Dishonest Manager from Luke 16:1-13. As we sort through Jesus’ words, hear his plea for us to be good stewards of our possessions as we ready ourselves for eternity. Hear his plea for us to use what he entrusts to us for his glory and for the good of all. Toward the end of Jesus’ explanation of this parable, he declares the central truth of this particular parable in verse 10, “One who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10, ESV). How faithful are we being with what God has given to us?

Be Faithful With the Possessions You Have

Randy Newman in his wonderful book Questioning Evangelism crafts his book around how Jesus’ habit of asking questions so that his listeners would probe their own souls and mindsets more deeply. Newman calls this “rabbinic evangelism ” — answering questions with questions.

Jesus constantly dealt with the questions of his disciples as well as his enemies. They enjoyed trying to put Jesus in a corner. Jesus used questions to probe our preconceptions about our thinking and living. Notice this first question: “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust you to the true riches” (Luke 16:11, ESV)? To understand this, let us read Luke 16:1-4:

He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses’ (Luke 16:1-4, ESV).

The rich man hired this manager to oversee his finances. This manager would collect on bills owed to his employer and would invest the finances so the rich man would receive a good return. Yet, this rich man fired his manager, for he was “wasting his possessions” (Luke 16:1, ESV).

Now the manager was in a bind! He had grown accustomed to the life of luxury and ease. What would he do now? Would he dig? The rich life had weakened him due to the lack of manual labor. Would he beg? No! Everyone knew his association with the rich man — he could not associate himself with beggars now. What would everyone say?

Yet, he used what resources he had at his disposal to prepare for his future. What did he do? Read with me verses five through eight:

So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 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 (Luke 16:5-8).

Some controversy arises as to what this fired manager was doing. Was he simply forfeiting his commission? Was he releasing the debtors from illegal taxes levied by the rich man? Quite frankly, we do not know — each of these options could be a possibility. Jesus does not feel the need to say and it seems as if the listeners understand.

This much is clear: the fired manager wasted his master’s wealth, so now he needs to make sure he does not waste opportunities from this point forward. In fact, his former boss compliments him, not for his dishonesty, but for his shrewdness in taking care of his future plans. “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” (Luke 16:8, ESV). This dishonest manager used the world’s wealth to gain friends who would help him after his termination.

What friends should we try to make? Luke 16:9 says, “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” (Luke 16:9, ESV). God wants us to use the world’s wealth so that our ‘friends’ will welcome us into our eternal dwelling — namely, God and all the heavenly angels waiting to greet them. Robert Stein notes, “Believers should so conduct their lives that when this world and its wealth comes to an end, God will welcome them into his presence.”

Are we using our resources with the shrewdness that God gives us in order to honor, glorify and befriend him? When Jesus told us in John 15 that “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (John 15:10a, ESV). He demonstrated that love by laying down his life for his friends. He said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14, ESV). We are faithful with our future when we befriend our Lord Jesus through faith and obedience.

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