May 27, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Wilson Fong, Gracepoint Berkeley.

Luke 16:3-8

Why is the manager’s response commendable?

The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.  Anticipating the termination of his employment, the manager acted quickly and decisively to ensure that “people will welcome [him] into their houses” (v. 4).  What he did was called in each of his master’s debtors and significantly reduced the amount they each owed the master.  In other words, he took his master’s wealth and freely gave it away so that the grateful beneficiaries would appreciate the manager’s generous gesture and be gracious toward him in return.

Luke 16:9-12

What does it mean to “gain friends” using “worldly wealth” so that I will be welcomed into eternal dwellings?

Jesus tells his disciples to use worldly wealth to gain friends so that when it is gone, they will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.  “Worldly wealth” refers to material things, such as money and personal possessions – all of which belongs to God and none of which lasts forever.  Like the shrewd manager, God has entrusted me with his wealth to do with whatever I please, and Jesus says, use it to build eternal relationships through acts of generosity.  Now money does not buy friends, and relationship-building requires time and energy and emotional labor.  So to use my worldly wealth to gain eternal friends means that I take this short life that I have been by God and invest it in loving people into God’s kingdom, sharing the saving gospel with them and being a blessing to them – so that in heaven, there will be people whose lives I have touched in the name of Christ.

What is the relationship between “worldly wealth” and “true riches”?

Trustworthiness in handling worldly wealth qualifies you to be entrusted with true riches.

Luke 16:12

What is my role on earth toward the resources I have been given?

My role on earth is to be a trustworthy steward over the resources I have been given by God.  They are not my property, for they belong to God.  Like Denethor, the Steward of Gondor from Lord of the Rings, who was to serve in the place of the King, I am a steward of God’s resources in my life, meaning that I need to use them as God would see fit.  And because God is benevolent and generous and so eager to provide, he wants me to use his resources to bless others.

What constitutes being “trustworthy” with money according to this passage?  Have I been trustworthy in this sense?

Being “trustworthy” with money, according to this passage, means using God’s money for his purpose.  It first entails proper recognition that the money does not belong to me but belongs to God, and it then leads to the unwavering intention to use that money for God’s purposes.  It does not mean frivolously giving money away to whoever passes by, but using money to support those in need (as seen in 2 Corinthians) and to further God’s mission of eternal salvation.

In this sense, I am trustworthy in that I am using the money God has given me to contribute to the work of our church and to meet people’s needs.  I am not splurging on myself and my family, making indulgent purchases and enjoying the finer things in life.  However, I need to improve in this area by being mindful of my finances, cutting out unnecessary spending so I can save up God’s money and then use it when need or opportunity arises.

Luke 16:13

Why is it impossible to serve both God and money? It is impossible to serve both God and Money because both have inherently competing demands – demands upon my time, my thoughts, my energy, my labor, my talents, and essentially, my totality.  Serving God is an all-consuming life of serving people (ministry) – getting to know them, building friendships with them, loving them, actually doing hard work in serving them, sharing the gospel with them, making them into disciples of Christ and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded them.  This cannot be categorized as an extracurricular activity or a hobby or a side-job.  Rather, it is going to take everything I have, or as Jesus put it in Luke 9:24, “…losing my life for Jesus…”  Similarly, serving Money is an all-consuming life of serving myself – gratifying my desires and appetites, filling my life with stuff, building up my career so I can make even more money, and ultimately feeding my ego and feeling really powerful because I own a lot of money.  But along the way, I also become increasingly narcissistic, selfish, unloving, uncaring, and proud.  “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25).  It is impossible to serve God and Money because they each pull me into opposite directions.

Which one am I serving? I am serving God.  I am happy at my job as a primary care nurse practitioner, and I feel like I am doing good work with my patients – improving their health and preventing harm and disease in their lives.  But that is not my “calling” or my “vocation.”  The God who calls sinners into His service has called me “an ambassador of Christ” and “minister of reconciliation.”  So as happy as I am at work, it is just a day job, and it is when I arrive in Berkeley after work that I really come alive – treating a student out to dinner, teaching Course 101 with a seeker, helping a new Christian grow spiritually and struggle with their sins, sharing with my small group from God’s Word.

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