Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Investing Our Lives - Thoughts on Luke 16

Many people have pointed out that in the gospels Jesus talks a lot about money.  Some people use those passages to teach financial principles. There is nothing wrong with that unless people begin to think that Jesus' primary intention was to give us instructions about finances and that finances should be our central focus.

What they seem to ignore is that Jesus clearly said that we should not be focused on our finances and that a perspective that puts finances in the center is a form of idolatry.
Luke 16:13 - 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.”
When Jesus does talk about handling money he uses it as a shorthand for everything that has been entrusted to us. Not just finances, property and resources, but also time, energy and talents. Here in Luke chapter sixteen, the dishonest manager is in trouble for "wasting" his master's possessions (v.1). The implication is that we are in a position of responsibility as managers of what God has entrusted to us - financially and otherwise. But it is not ours, it is God's. We have no right to waste it.

The dishonest manager was smart enough to see that he should not focus on maximum dollar value, but on relationships with other people. In doing this, he is taking a long view - beyond his immediate pleasures. Anticipating a time when he will not have access to his master's resources, he wants to have other people who will "...receive me into their houses." (v.4)

So what was Jesus praising about a "dishonest manager?" Certainly not that he was dishonest, but that he eventually realized the importance of investing in relationships and the long view.

Everything we have belongs to our Master. We have no business wasting it. He didn't give it to us to waste on our pleasures (James 4:3), but to use for his kingdom. Do we have money, homes, cars, technology, time, energy and talents? All of them are God's and we should use them to accomplish God's purposes. To a large extent we should be using everything to invest in relationships with other people.

People are not units of revenue. They are God's creation. They are precious souls with an eternal destiny. They are brothers and sisters with whom we can have relationships. We need to be generous and strategic in building into people's lives for the glory of God.