Money is a tough topic. Just the mention of the “t” word (tithing) is enough to stir up a lively thread on any social medium. But money is a part of the world we live in, and the Bible has quite a bit to say about it. In the Parable of the Unjust Steward, Jesus gives a money lesson that, on the surface, can be a little confusing. It would seem that the “hero” is a manager accused of wasting his master’s goods. Upon closer inspection, though, we see six main principles of financial management for the children of God to turn earthly wealth into treasures in heaven.
1. We Are All Stewards of God’s Goods
LUKE 16:1: “And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.”
1 Corinthians 4:7 asks a very good question: “What do you have that you haven’t received?” No matter if we have a little or a lot, every one of us has been given talents, strengths, and opportunities that have led us to the financial position we are in. In this way, God provides for our needs and many of our wants. We give thanks for our blessings and have faith in His provision for us. Indeed, we are not our own, and neither is our net worth.
We are His hands and feet, and we should be about our master’s business even with our material wealth. But how many of us include Him in the decision making process about how to spend the money He has entrusted to us to manage? Are we always completely faithful, or do we sometimes waste our Master’s goods, just like the unfaithful steward?
2. We All Will Give an Account When Our Time Ends
LUKE 16:2: “ So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’”
Romans 14:12 says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Our stewardship is also temporary. After just a few short years on earth, we will all stand before God with the books open. In a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon called “The Last Sermon of the Year” in 1895, he mentions stewardship of time, talents, substance, and influence. It’s a sobering thought. The unjust steward in this parable took his earthly accounting seriously. How much more so should the children of God when we consider our day in front of the judgement seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10)? Luke 12:48 says, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
LUKE 16:3-4: “Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’”
Any talents, abilities, or inclinations we have come purely by the grace of God. There is no more labor for our souls. When our time as stewards for God is done, all we will have is the future we have made for ourselves by the things we have done with our resources on earth. We must use our present position and possessions to prepare for our eternity in God’s kingdom. Even Moses made financial decisions based on anticipation of rewards. In Hebrews 11:26, Paul said about him, “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.”
3. We Should Sacrifice For Our Future
LUKE 16:5-7: “So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, ‘How much owest thou unto my lord?’ And he said, ‘An hundred measures of oil.’ And he said unto him, ‘Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.’ Then said he to another, ‘And how much owest thou?’ And he said, ‘An hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said unto him, ‘Take thy bill, and write fourscore.’”
This part might seem a bit confusing if you don’t understand the commission system of the time. The landlord had tenants who owed him money. It was up to the manager to collect the amount owed. Any monies over and above that original amount were the salary for the manager to keep. The steward here sacrifices his portion of collections to gain the goodwill of the landlord’s tenants. The rich man gets his money, the tenants get a good deal on their debts, and the steward has created a group of people who are grateful for his actions. He is securing his future while he still holds his position.
In the same way, we must sacrifice now to benefit others. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” We must use our Lord’s money in a way that gives God His due, helps His people, and earns esteem from both God and those who will be sharing our eternity.
4. We Must Make Friends With the Unrighteous Mammon
LUKE 16:8-9: “And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, ‘Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.’”
The landlord commends his steward for investing in his future. In fact, when you look around at the unbelievers you know, it is obvious how true this is. People work their whole lives, saving, investing, and planning for their earthly futures that may last but a few short years. In fact, that’s why it’s called “mammon of unrighteousness.” The word “mammon” means an object of worship and devotion. It’s called unrighteous because those who put their trust in money to buy happiness and satisfaction deceive themselves. Only God can fill our God-shaped holes.
But how many believers do you know who truly live with eternity in mind? How many are intentionally investing in the only thing that we can take with us when we go: the good we have done for other people. In Luke 12:33, Jesus tells the rich young ruler to “Sell that ye have, and give alms (money to the poor); provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” So, meeting the needs of people on earth is the way to lay up treasures in heaven. We should use our resources to do as much good as we can for God’s glory and people’s eternal good.
1 Corinthians 3:14 says, “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” One day many of those same people we help will be with us in our forever home. The difference we made in their lives while on earth will cause them to welcome us with great joy in eternity.
5. We Should Be Faithful With the Unrighteous Mammon
LUKE 16:10-12: “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?”
Here, Jesus calls money the “least” because money is so temporary. Faithfulness with money now while it is not our own will result in blessings in heaven that will truly be ours. But sometimes if we’re not careful, we might find ourselves in the position of having what is called a “poverty mindset.” That just means that we live with the belief that life is full of scarcity. Money is difficult to earn, things are hard to get, and there just isn’t enough for us, much less enough for us to share. In this way, people hold their belongings tightly to themselves instead of giving generously and expecting God to refill and resupply. But we just can’t out-give God.
As for theme of faithfulness in resources, it can be found several other places in the Bible. In the parable of the talents, a man trusts his servants with varying amounts of money and expects them to yield dividends for him. Matthew 25:21 says, “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’” Their rewards were increased responsibility in their master’s business.
In his book titled Our Daily Devotional, Evangelist F.B. Meyers once said, “So God is testing men by giving them money that He may know how far to trust them in the mart of the New Jerusalem.” That same parable also speaks of the day when we will meet Jesus face to face. We want Him to be pleased with the things we have done. Revelation 22:12 says, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
6. We Should Serve God and Not Money
LUKE 16:13: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Many people say they love Jesus, but their handling of money tells a different story. How can you tell Who or what you are serving? Service requires sacrifice. If you will sacrifice to make more money and get ahead financially but will not sacrifice for God, you have chosen your god. Whether rich or poor, our checkbooks are the best objective guide to Who or what holds sway in our lives. Luke 12:34 simply says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
For some, financial obedience looks like tithing, or giving ten percent of one’s income off the top. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek some 400 years before Moses received the Law. It is the one subject in the Bible in which God encourages people to test Him. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” As a tither myself, I can personally testify that God is absolutely faithful to His promise in that area. It seems counterintuitive that giving more means having more, but that is exactly how God’s math works.
In any case, the concept of sowing and reaping is present throughout the entire Bible. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, Paul says, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” God rewards us for our sacrificial giving both on earth and in eternity. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” And Jesus is clear in Luke 21 that he is a fool who “layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
The Lesson of the Parable
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”1 Peter 4:10
We are all stewards of God’s resources on earth, and we will all give an account of how we have handled His business. Sacrificing our own financial gain to invest in the lives of our Lord’s servants is the only way to bring that wealth into eternity. We must be faithful and serve God with our time, effort, and money. In this way, we glorify God and reveal our own priorities and spiritual maturity. It is one way to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, and one more way to please our Lord.
If you to look closely at scripture, try Three Simple Instructions From God to Us. In it, we look at Hebrews 3-4. Or, try Twinkly Trash: A Closer Look at Job 28. Please do not forget to sign up to receive email notifications at the top right of this page. Or, check out my YouTube channel where I read my blogs to you so you can multitask. I also have a super playlist of hymns led by the talented, anointed 16-year old at my church called Hymns from Hannah.