- Sermon Notes
Invest in Your Eternity
June 6, 2021
1. Does money buy happiness?
ILLUS – Famous quotes from famous wealthy men.
2. Again, I ask, “Does money buy happiness?” From these quotes it’s clear that it does not.
3. And the Bible tells us why. In fact, the Bible has a lot to say about money, what it promises, what it actually achieves, and how it can also deceive.
4. And it is important to note that when we talk about money, the topic comes under the umbrella of a much larger discussion, the stewardship of one’s life; which is the focus of our study this evening.
5. Tonight, we will study what many scholars consider to be one of the most difficult parables taught by Jesus, what has been called “The Parable of the Prodigal Steward.”
6. From Jesus’ teaching we will learn valuable principles for managing our lives so that we are truly investing in our eternal tomorrows.
Transition – The first lesson that Jesus wants us to learn when it comes to investing in our eternity is. . .
I. Seek First The Kingdom of God
• After talking about the prodigal son who squandered his inheritance on loose living in Luke 15, Jesus shares with His disciples about the importance of investing in their eternity by making a difference in their world now.
• Remember a disciple is someone who learns the precepts and principles of their master-teacher so that they may live according to what they have learned.
• As disciples of Jesus Christ this means that our goal is to continually learn more about Jesus and His teachings so that we may look more like Jesus; to think like Jesus, to talk like Jesus, and to walk like Jesus.
• What is clear from Jesus’ teaching and manner of life is that if we want to look more like Jesus then we must seek first His kingdom.
Matthew 6:33, But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
• And if we wish to invest in our eternal tomorrows, then we must seek first the kingdom of God with all of our todays.
• How we live now will have an impact on how we will live in eternity because today and eternity are inextricably linked.
• To make it practical and personal. . .
A. Be a faithful steward of your God-given stewardship
1. To drive His point home, Jesus uses a parable which is in many ways quite shocking.
2. It’s shocking because Jesus uses an unfaithful, dishonest, worldly steward to teach us something about being a faithful steward who invests in eternity.
3. Now, just to be clear, Jesus is not telling us to be dishonest; He would never condone such a thing.
4. The steward in this parable is worldly, meaning he is governed by the principles and philosophies of this fallen world. So we should not be shocked when he acts like the world.
5. The key to the parable is the eighth verse where Jesus said, “. . . for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.”
6. The point Jesus is making is that if the sons of this world are praised for acting shrewdly, how much more should the sons of light, His disciples, be praised for living by the wisdom of heaven.
Matthew 10:16, Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.
7. The steward or manager was hired to manage the financial affairs of this wealthy man, which was common then as it is now.
a. The manager did not own the wealth.
b. The manager merely managed his master’s wealth in order to make more money for his master.
8. Now, the most important part of being a steward is that he serve his master faithfully.
a. But this steward squandered the rich man’s wealth just like the prodigal son of Luke 15.
b. He probably spent the money on himself and would have been guilty of misappropriating funds.
c. This corruption was reported to the master so the master called the steward into his office for a “Come to Jesus Meeting.”
d. The master demanded to see the inventory and wanted the financial books audited.
9. Well the steward saw the writing on the proverbial wall, and considered his options. (3)
a. Digging ditches was out because his back was too feeble, his arms were too weak, and his hands were too tender.
b. Begging was not an option because he was too “ashamed to beg.”
c. So the shrewd steward came up with a third option.
10. While the audit was underway, he took advantage of the extra time to make friends with his master’s debtors so that they would help him when he was finally shown the door. (4-7)
a. How did the shrewd steward buy friends? He canceled a portion of the debtors’ debt!
b. Did the shrewd steward cheat his master out of what others owed him?
c. I don’t think so because Jesus would never commend the steward for doing so and encourage His disciples to go and do likewise.
d. A better interpretation is that the steward deducted the large amount of interest that would have come to him as the agent for each transaction; meaning, he deducted his exorbitant commission from the balance sheet.
e. By doing so, the debtors would have felt a sense of personal obligation to help the shrewd steward once he lost his job.
d. And by doing so, the steward would also avoid being thrown into jail by his master since the discount did not impact his bottom line.
APPL – Here’s the principle that Jesus commends and exhorts His disciples to embrace. . .
• The steward knew he would have to give an account for his stewardship over what had been entrusted to him.
• The steward also knew that he must plan for his future and needed to use his shrewdness or worldly wisdom to be prepared.
• So his master commends him, not for being dishonest, but for acting shrewdly by preparing for what lies ahead, for investing in his future.
ILLUS – In Proverbs, there is a wisdom to be learned by observing the ant.
Proverbs 6:6, 8, Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise. . . prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.
APPL – How can we apply this to our lives?
• First, we are also just stewards of all that we have.
• Everything we have actually belongs to God; our time, our talents, our gifts, and our wealth; not just the tithes or offerings; all of it.
• Someday we will give an account to God for what we did with the life that He gave to us.
• What were our priorities?
• How did we use our time, gifts, talents, and resources to invest in and further the kingdom of God?
• How did we invest our lives?
• How did we impact the people under our care?
• Who will welcome us to heaven because we impacted their lives with our todays?
Transition – Since we know this day of accountability is coming we must. . .
B. Buy up every opportunity for God’s kingdom
1. We live in a very dark world, a world filled with unrighteousness.
2. We have to use unrighteous mammon or wealth as a daily part of our lives.
3. But as we walk through this dark world, we are called to walk according to the light of the wisdom of God’s Word.
Psalm 119:103-105, How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
4. God’s wisdom applies to every area of our lives and the wisdom we need to understand from Jesus’ teaching is that earthly mammon or wealth has heavenly consequences.
5. Frankly, we need far more wisdom when it comes to money and finances.
a. But not only do we need wisdom, we need to have a change of heart.
b. We only need to look at the Pharisees and their response to Jesus’ teaching to see what was wrong not only with them, but with our world as a whole.
Luke 16:14, Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.
6. Jesus is telling us that we need to use our earthly wealth to produce eternal treasures because what we do now has heavenly results.
Matthew 6:20-21, But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
APPL – We need to make heavenly use of unrighteous mammon.
• The money that God places at your disposal, use it in such a way that you will reap eternal benefits from it.
• The truth is, there will come a time when our earthly wealth will lose all its value.
ILLUS – “My uncle died a millionaire.”
APPL – Buy up every opportunity to invest in the kingdom of God while you still have the opportunity.
ILLUS – But imagine if you could take your wealth with you to heaven.
Job 1:21, Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Quote – The English poet, John Donne, rightly said, “Death is the great leveler.”
Transition – I would add, “Death is also the great revealer.” So. . .
II. Be Mastered by God
• Too many people make the pursuit of what Jesus calls unrighteous mammon or money the focus of their lives.
• As we noted earlier, the Pharisees were lovers of money and, therefore, scoffed at Jesus’ teaching.
• The truth is you can’t be a lover of money and a lover of God at the same time.
• Just like you can’t walk in two different directions at the same time.
APPL – Be mastered by God.
Transition – In verse 10, we read the famous words, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much.” From this we learn another valuable principle for investing in our eternity. . .
A. Faithfulness begins with the little things
1. In other words, the use of wealth is an indicator of hidden character.
2. Jesus uses the opposite point to make His point, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?” (11)
3. By true riches Jesus means the spiritual riches of God’s kingdom.
a. We show our heart for God by how we use our time, gifts, talents, and money.
b. If we are faithful with what has been entrusted to us, then God will entrust to us true spiritual riches in His kingdom.
c. And please know that is exactly what God wants to do.
d. The Lord would not share these principles with us if He did not want us to apply them to our lives so that we may be blessed with true spiritual riches.
2 Chronicles 16:9, For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
Transition – The truth is. . .
B. No one can serve two masters
1. In verse 13 Jesus gives us the capstone of His teaching, “No servant can serve two masters.”
2. In other words, you cannot serve God and worldly, unrighteous mammon.
3. You cannot have money as your driving purpose and also have God as your master, it is simply impossible.
4. This is why Jesus said that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
5. Jesus did not say it was impossible but He did say it was difficult.
Matthew 19:24, Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
6. What would it take for a rich man to enter heaven? He would have to realize that he was poor and wretched and blind; the very thing his wealth tells him he is not.
Revelation 3:17-18, Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
7. This is why Jesus warns against “the deceitfulness of riches” because it will choke out the seed of the Gospel.
Mark 4:19, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
8. Riches can make people think they are better than others; there is a superiority that comes with it.
9. They think singing the hymn, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me” might be good medicine for other poor saps but it’s beneath them.
10. That’s why the Apostle Paul gave the following command to Timothy. . .
1 Timothy 6:17-19, Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
APPL – It’s at this point that some may find themselves winching at these words.
APPL – The call here is for us to choose this day whom we will serve.
• May we say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
• It’s all about the heart.
• Jesus said we cannot serve two masters.
• He wants us to decide that we want the Lord as our Master.
• It’s all about what we are desiring, pursuing, and investing in.
Proverbs 2:1-5, My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.
Luke 16:1-17 NASB
1 Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was [a]reported to him as squandering his possessions. 2 And he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3 And the manager said to himself, ‘What am I to do, since my [b]master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to [c]dig; I am ashamed to beg. 4 I know what I will do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’ 5 And he summoned each one of his [d]master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 And he said, ‘A hundred [e]jugs of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred [f]kors of wheat.’ He *said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 And his [g]master complimented the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own [h]kind than the sons of light. 9 And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the [i]wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it [j]is all gone, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.
10 “The one who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and the one who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much. 11 Therefore if you have not [k]been faithful in the use of unrighteous [l]wealth, who will entrust the true wealth to you? 12 And if you have not [m]been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No [n]servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and [o]wealth.”
14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were [p]ridiculing Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of people, but God knows your hearts; because that which is highly esteemed among people is detestable in the sight of God.
16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John came; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God [q]has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one [r]stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.