Make a Lasting Impact 2) Impact of Wealth ● Luke 16:1-13 ● October 13, 2019 ● Sermon Series on Luke 15-17
[no audio or video version available this week due to recording error]
What does it take to make a lasting impact? Most entrepreneurs would say that you can make a bigger impact if you make the best use of your money. Take Elon Musk as one example. By selling his first successful company and investing in other areas he has found himself making a much bigger impact than his first company ever could. He is now listed as having a net worth of billions and one of the richest people in the world. However, last year he opted to receive only the minimum wage requirements for salary. He wants to use as much of his company’s money as possible to achieve his lofty goals. And they are admittedly grand goals: from a new car company, a solar company with plans to change the way we use solar panels, to a tunneling company bent on changing modern high-speed transport, to a space rocket company that even has plans to begin steps for the colonization of Mars. Few would argue that he isn’t striving to make a lasting impact. Many investors have bought into his ideas. Just his space company is projected to be worth 25 billion dollars in the near future. Some people look at money and see it as the end goal. He seems to look at money differently. He sees the opportunity to use it to do something big.
Today we continue our series on making a lasting impact. Last week we saw how forgiveness has a profound impact which echoes throughout the heavens. Today Jesus once again instructs us to make a lasting impact. It’s one that will have an even greater impact than stepping on another planet. He would have us look at what has an impact into eternity. He instructs us to look at money differently. We are to see how we are to use it to make a lasting impact.
First of all, don’t misunderstand. Jesus isn’t saying that money can do everything. It can’t, really. Nor is he saying that God needs our money to accomplish his goals. He works on a far higher level with the power of his Word. God doesn’t need anything from us. Yet how we use our wealth is not inconsequential. How we use our money can reveal a lot about our own hearts and our own goals.
Jesus begins here with an example of how people in this world use their money. Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’6 “ ‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’“ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.
Jesus is by no means advocating selfish and dishonest use of money. Rather he is highlighting that the world understands how to use money to achieve its goals. Many people in this world have a bigger picture in mind than just having wealth. They use money as a means to an end. The man in Jesus’ example was about to be fired from his position. He feared being poor. So, he managed money while he had the chance to make some friends for himself. That way he would get what he wanted. His goal was to obtain some security and a place to stay even when he lost his job. Most everyone makes plans to use their money for the future. Some use it to build a business. Some use it to make friends. Some use it to purchase entertainment. Some plan for a comfortable retirement. Some for evil schemes to just become even wealthier or more powerful. People know how to use money and put it to work to meet their goals. If they want to reach Mars, they carefully plan and invest every penny to make it happen.
The unbelieving world is shrewd in its use of money. But what about believers? “…the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.” Simply put, unbelievers are often better at managing their resources for their goals than believers are at managing their resources for their goals.
What are our goals in life? We might share in many of the same goals as everyone else in this world. But should our goals be greater than simply obtaining a retirement fund or a comfortable life? Don’t we want more than just friends for a day? How about using our wealth for a lasting impact? What about using our wealth with eternity in mind?
We need to know what our goals are and put our hearts and wealth into plans to meet those goals. And we need to do it now. There is an urgency behind the use of our wealth. Just as the man in the story by Jesus knew his time for managing it was short, we know our time on this earth is short. In a little while the way we have spent our lives and our wealth will be over and the only thing that will last will be what we planned for eternity.
Jesus tells us exactly what we are to do with all our worldly wealth “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves.” He doesn’t mean buying new friends with our wealth. That is a shallow friendship. He means spending your wealth with eternity in mind. The Christian doesn’t ask, “How will this spending make me more secure.” They can’t be any more secure! They are already secure in Christ and are children of light. Instead they ask, “How will this spending make other more secure and spread the message of hope in Christ?” and “How can I use my earthly wealth for eternal purposes?”
Think of all the ways that your wealth can be put to eternal purposes instead of things which won’t have a lasting impact. If you invest in giving your children the best education, the best opportunities, and all that they want you may have children who love you and who are wealthy. But will you have children of light or children of this world? Your children will love you if you spend money on them. But if you put your time, wealth, and resources into giving them every opportunity to hear God’s Word, bring them to and support the faithful teaching of God’s Word at your church home, you invest for eternity. For some Christian congregations they make plans to operate and support Christian schools. That is no small feat. Is it worth it for them to have the money put down to operate that school? They are looking at the bigger picture. They don’t just want their children to have an education, but Christian friends, Christian mentors, and a solid foundation in the faith which will last forever. When our congregation works to run a program to reach out with the gospel, it isn’t always easy. It takes a financial investment. Is it worth it? For those who hear the gospel it makes a lasting impact! When you support a local charity you get your name on a plaque for building a library you or mentioned with gratitude and make earthly friends. But when your give to support mission work and the spreading of the gospel through your mission offerings you are giving to an effort that will make friends who will join with you in the kingdom of our God. You pull souls out of the darkness of sin into God’s wonderful light. Those are friends who will share in that love of God with you forever. You can give someone a bowl of soup and piece of bread to feed them for today. But if you do that in the name of Jesus and use it as an opportunity to share the gospel you have more than a friend for today. “Use earthly wealth to gain friends.” When you support the orphanages and schools at our missions in India, you know you will see those children, not in this life, but someday in eternity. Use every opportunity to plan and prepare for eternity. It is coming.
As “sons of light” what are your goals in life? We are those who have been called out of the darkness of this world which craves only selfish ends. We are called sons of light because we belong to the God who has saved us from our sins. That includes the selfish thinking of trying to purchase friends. We know what true love and friendship is. Our God did not purchase us with gold or silver. Instead he showed us what true friendship is as he came to live as a man. For us he was born to a poor and lowly family. He did not strive after wealth. When the devil tried to tempt him and offered him all the world’s wealth he refused. His goal was never to become rich and comfortable. His goal was to gain a lasting and eternal friendship. And in order to build that friendship he gave the greatest payment: his own self. Jesus the perfect and holy Son of God had all the right to all the riches and eternal comforts of heaven. But he took on human flesh in order to offer up himself in the place of every selfish human being. He poured out his life to purchase us from sin’s curse, the devil’s accusations, and the grave’s clutches. He speaks to his disciples for whom he gave everything and says, “I have called you friends.” No one has greater love than this: that they lay down their life for their friends.
Because Jesus did this for us, we are secure! And all who trust in him share with him in his heavenly glory. He rose from death, preached victory over the devil, and showed himself as the living one. We know that our future is secure! We will be with him forever. Instead of the darkness and despair of death and hell, we will follow him into bright glory. We are rightly called the sons of light because our destiny is to live fully secure and safe in his heavenly kingdom.
Doesn’t that change your goals in life? Doesn’t that change our view of what your wealth is for? We have a much bigger picture in mind than our financial security and personal investments. We know that if our goal is to just get rich and make friends then it will all come crashing down. Life is short. And the one who dies the richest still dies. But we know of the eternal riches that are ours in Jesus. We know that this gift is freely given and is for all people.
Have you and I been using our wealth with that mindset? Have we been faithful in our planning? 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” No, money doesn’t convert souls to Christ. The power for salvation is the gospel message. But are we set on sharing that message by using all that God has given us? Are we set on making friends for eternity by spreading the love of Christ through his gospel? Or are we set on other matters? Only one service will last forever and have an eternal impact.
The one who believes money can do everything will give all he has to it. The one who believes God has done everything will give all he has to him. If our end goal in life is not ultimately focused on eternity, Jesus is not our God, money is. Everything else is idolatry. “You cannot serve both God and money.” But as children of light we have been called to have a new master. We serve the one who gave us everything by giving himself. In Jesus’ lesson he teaches how a man uses his money knowing it won’t last. We know that our worldly wealth won’t last. But we do have something that will last. It is ours and freely given by Jesus.
Men like Elon Musk have their sights set on the planets and stars. But do you want to make a lasting impact? Then set your eyes on Jesus, the Son of God and the riches of his kingdom. Set your plans and goals around bringing others to know the goodness of our Father in heaven. Live as sons of light as you keep eternity in sight. Then use all that he places in your hands to reach out and make eternal friends. Amen.