|Are We Eager?
1. Eager to do good
1 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. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.
This is a very strange parable. The manager was a slave who ran the master's estate. The master was an absentee landlord; he was never around to see what the slave was doing. Since the landlord was not around, the manager took full advantage of the landlord's absence. Now we also see that the debtors who owed money to the manager were also not good.
Back then, the rent used to be paid, not in cash but in kind. Generally it was agreed upon that you paid part of the produce as rent. In the meanwhile, the manager suddenly finds out that he's going to lose his job. So he called all the debtors and said, 'let's settle accounts and I will put a bill which is less than what you owe'. Now the debtors were obviously happy because they had to pay less than they owed and so they were happy to settle the amount.
This didn't just happen in the times of Jesus, it happens even today. If you go to a shop to buy something the shopkeepers will always ask how much they should bill for. That is because you can make some commission also, out of the whole deal. Now the master gets to know the entire plan of the manager but instead of being shocked at the behavior of the manager he actually commends him. 'Good job, man. You've got a good brain after all. I didn't know you were so smart'. The manager is actually commended for his crookedness.
Jesus says, 'if only the people of the light could be as shrewd as the people of the world'. People in the world are very shrewd. That's why sometimes we are taken advantage of as disciples by people. We come into the church with a lot of trust and we trust anybody and everybody. We can see disciples lending money to disciples.
It really messes up people's hearts when they feel like they can get money from someone. Especially when the person doesn't pay you back. So many times the relationship between disciples gets strained because money is owed. May be we should lend only so much which will not give us a bad attitude even if the person doesn't pay us back.
If only a man could give as much attention to the things that concern his soul as much as the things that concern his family, his wealth, friends or other things he'll be a better man. Studies have revealed that the average man spends 20 times the amount of time, money and effort on pleasure, hobbies, sports and other things than on godly things and church related activities.
Our Christianity could be so much more effective if we spent so much more of our time, effort and energy into things that concern Jesus Christ. Today, how eager are we to do what is right? How eager are we to read our Bibles every morning? How eager are we to share our faith? How eager are we to give our monthly contribution? How eager are we to visit someone who is sick? Or to encourage someone who is in need?
2. Eager to make friends
9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
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?
V9 talks about using our worldly wealth to win friends for ourselves. Wealth consists not of what we keep with ourselves but of what is given away. So many people leave behind wealth after they pass away. There are great people who leave their wealth to hospitals or charity or some deserving students. These are great things to do with your wealth. Wealth and possessions are in themselves not sin but there is a great responsibility attached to how we use them. We've got to use it to serve God and his people. Use it for hospitality. Open the doors of your home for family group meetings. Use it for KKC, for the work of children in the church, so that they grow to become great disciples.
V10 says that those who can be trusted with little can also be trusted with more. A promotion is given to a worker who does well with the few responsibilities he's given. The boss is happy and gives him more responsibilities, promotes him. Gives him more salary but also gives him more responsibilities. Jesus is trying to say that all the things you have on earth are not yours - they are given to you for you to take care of them. We are not going to be able to take them with us.
Material possessions are lent to you. We are put as manager over those things to take care of those things so that we could use them wisely to win more and more friends for God and His kingdom. Our value is not measured by our valuables. According to God, the most valuable things in life are not things.
4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
Here the Bible says we have to show restraint when we acquire wealth because all of a sudden it can fly off. It has happened with so many people. The things we possess can only give us temporary happiness. Things never change and because they don't change and grow, eventually we get bored of everything we possess. That's why the market always has to be updated. They have to bring in newer things, updated versions because the previous things are not making people happy anymore. First we had the VCP, then it became VCR , then VCD and DVD. We don't know what the next three letters are going to be.
All the wealth a man has stored up can be lost because of a number of uncontrollable factors. We should invest in people because people always grow. Oour friends will grow. We never get tired of our old friends because they keep changing and become mature. Let us invest in people and we'll always be satisfied. Let us invest in our spouse, in our marriage, in our children - they will be grateful. Let us invest in the church, in the people in the church, they will always satisfy. Let us invest in God, he will always satisfy.
Once we use these temporary things God has given us on this earth and we do a good job with it, God decides to give us things in heaven that are permanent. The reward for work well done on earth is not a three-day holiday package in Ooty. It is more work to be done. He will say, 'Good job you've done with some things so I'll give you more to do and I trust you will do a good job with that'. Let's use the things God has given us to win friends for his kingdom.
3. Eager to serve the Master
"No servant can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money."
No slave can have two masters. Back in Jesus' time a master owned a slave exclusively. Nowadays we can have two jobs. We can have one job and then we can have another part time job in the evening. But a slave would have no spare time, no energy, no anything of his own. Whatever the master decided, that's all he could do.
6 Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any.
7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?'
8 "'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it.
9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'"
This is a parable that sometimes gets people upset with Jesus. Uselessness will bring about our end. The very concept of evolution is to produce useful things and what is useful will keep going and growing from strength to strength but what is useless gets eliminated. Nothing which only takes out can survive. What was the fig tree doing? It was drawing strength from the soil, sunlight from up, water and all the required nutrition. After getting all the nutrients what did it produce? Nothing.
Took out a lot but gave out nothing. There are two types of people in the world today. Those who take out more than they put in. And those who put in more than they give out. When we work we get a salary. But we don't do enough for the company and we desire an increase in salary, we get fired. The boss is not going to put up with someone who only wants to take from the company and not give back anything to the company.
The Gospel is the message of a second chance. He looks at us and he wants us to produce fruit for God. We cannot say, 'I will take from the Church but I will not give anything in return'. We will be eliminated - not because someone else will do it but God himself will eliminate us. The church needs will always keep growing.
Serving God can never be a part time affair nor can it be a spare time job like the way we can do another job. Serving God has to be whole hearted. Not just if we have the time. Not just if we feel like doing something good. Not just a 'Ok-I-have-nothing-better-to-do-I'll-help-out-the-church'.
Either we belong to the Master completely or we don't belong to Him at all. We have to decide how we want to serve God. Sometimes we think there are only two categories - Saved and Unsaved. But there's a category far worse ie 'Saved but Unspiritual' where we are just content to be saved but we do nothing about God or his kingdom. In the early days the slaves would be branded with a red-hot iron. This would reveal the ownership - this slave belongs to me. There is a deposit that God has given us - the Holy Spirit.
Let's be eager to do good. The opportunity to do right comes rarely. Let us grab that opportunity with both hands when it comes. Let us not regret once it has gone. Let's be eager to make friends. Let's use whatever God has given us. It's not how much we have as how big our heart is. It's not how small the house is, it's how big our heart is. We can do great things for God if we have the right attitude. Let's be eager to serve the Master as we are slaves to Jesus Christ.