4/21/96

PUTTING THE PROPER VALUE ON YOUR MONEY
LUKE 16:1-13

INTRODUCTION:
In the book, The Day America Told the Truth, by James Patterson and Peter Kim, you find an interesting
insight into the American attitude toward money.  It is very revealing concerning the value we put on money in
the 90's.  One of the questions asked, "If they could change one thing about their lives what would they
change."  64% of the respondents answered that they would make themselves rich.  Wealth was far and away
the top answer.  The desire to be a "better person" didn't even get enough responses to be in the top fifteen.  
It is obvious that in our society we place more value on what a person has than we do on what they are.  


As a Christian I must always be concerned about the value that Jesus put on something.  What did He have to
say about the value of our money?  One of the most helpful passages in all of the New Testament is the
parable of the "unjust steward."  It is one of the more unusual parables that Jesus gave because it involves a
man who acted irresponsibly and yet received a commendation from His employer.  The man was manager
over the possessions of his employer.  When the word came to his employer that he was guilty of
mismanagement, and an accounting verified the accusations, he was about to be fired.  Before his employer
could fire him, he used his position to better himself.  He used his position to make friends who would help him
when he lost his job.  He used his authority to reduce the amount of debt that several people owed his
employer.  He created the kind of relationship with them that guaranteed him their help when he was out of a
job.  Jesus used this unusual parable to bring before us his perspective on the value of money, and how we
should manage our material resources.  

From the application that Jesus made of this parable there are three obvious insights that help us place a
proper value upon our money.  

I.  MONEY CAN BE THE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION.
Jesus would encourage us to label our money with a warning - "This money can be dangerous to the welfare of
your soul."  He brings about this word of warning by the language He uses in the text.  "I tell you, use worldly
wealth to gain friends for yourself so that it is gone you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."  The word
translated "worldly" wealthy is translated in the older version "Mammon of unrighteousness."  He uses the
same expression in the text when He says, "If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon,
who will commit to your trust the true riches."   The older translation is the more literal translation.  Mammon is
the old Chaldean word for riches.  Jesus used this word a number of times when He wanted to emphasize that
riches are by their very nature a part of this world.  This is the reason that the newer translation is simply
"worldly riches."  The worldly riches are in contrast to eternal riches.  

The use of the word "unrighteous" is a reminder to us that money by its very nature can be the source of
unrighteous behavior on our part.  It can be the source of temptation.  

1.  There is the temptation to get it in the wrong ways.
The Apostle Paul warned that "The love of riches is the source of all kinds of evil."  There is something about
money that can captivate the human heart.  It can set off within the person a desire to have more money.  The
desire to have more money then becomes the source of temptation to do unjust and unlawful things in order to
get more money.  All of us have observed the tragedy of an outstanding person succumbing to the temptation
to have more.  The temptation to have more prompts them to do things that are illegal, unjust, evil, oppressive,
and scandalous.  Their names and faces appear on the front page of the paper when they are caught.  All of
us need to be cautious because money can be the source of temptation.  

2.  There is the temptation to use it in the wrong ways.  

Will you take a bill of some denomination and hold it in your hand with me.  I have in my hand a $10 bill in
American currency.  If this ten dollar bill could talk it would probably have an interesting story to tell.  Can you
imagine where this ten dollar bill might have been?  I am not implying that it would have an interesting story to
tell about what I have done with it, but rather what may have been done with it before it came into my hands.  It
came into my hands from the bank, but who knows where it had been before it came to the bank.  It could have
been spent for a bottle of liquor that led to a person driving while intoxicated, which resulted in a collision that
took an innocent life.  It could have been spent in a house of prostitution.  It could have been a part of a bribe
to buy off a governmental official.  It could have been spent for some illegal drugs in North Overton when it
should have been spent to meet the needs of a family.  It could have been a part of a mission offering.  It could
have been a part of a gift to the United Way.  It has been used often enough in that which is unrighteous that
Jesus labeled it "unrighteous mammon."  He wanted us to understand that money is often used in ways that
are unrighteous.  

So, when you value your money you need to value it in light of the fact that it can be dangerous to the welfare
of your soul.  It can be the source of temptation.  

II.  MONEY IS A POOR OBJECT FOR YOUR TRUST.  
Money does have power.  It has enough power that it will encourage you to put your trust in it.   Jesus helps us
be aware of the danger of putting our trust in money by reminding us that money will ultimately fail us.  He said,
"I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourself, so that when it is gone, you will be welcome in the
eternal dwellings."  The older versions translates it, "When ye fail."  However it is obvious that Jesus was not
talking about our failure but rather He was talking about the failure of the money itself.  The idea in the word is
that there will come a point where the money will no longer be of value, it will leave off.  

1.  It can never satisfy our deepest hunger.  

Anyone who looks to money to give fulfillment and meaning to their lives will be disappointed.  Money does not
have the power to do that.  It will fail as a substitute for God when it comes to the satisfaction of the human
heart.  Someone asked the famous John D. Rockefeller, "How much money does it take to satisfy a man?"   
The famous oil man responded, "Just a little bit more."  Man is never able to accumulate enough to fill the void
that is in his heart.  

E. Stanley Jones tells about a woman who said to him, "I don't have to work.  I have money.  But I work to keep
from committing suicide.  My husband doesn't have to work.  He has money.  He works to run away from
himself."  Here was a couple who had everything, and yet had nothing.  If you are putting your trust in money,
you are setting yourself for certain disappointment.

2.  It can never meet our greatest needs.
There will come a day when money will fail.  It may come in one of the great crises of your life.  You may be as
rich as Ross Perot but all of that wealth will be useless in the great crises of life.  You cannot accumulate
enough money to change the heart of a wayward son or daughter.  I know families that have spent thousands
upon thousands of dollars sending a son to one treatment center after another, but the best treatments that
money could buy was not able to change his heart.  Ultimately the money was useless when faced with this
great crises.

The ultimate failure of money is in the hour of death.  If you have enough money, it may delay the approach of
death for a few days, or even for a few months.  However, there will finally come the day when no amount of
money will stay the hand of death.  In that moment of death, money will fail you.  

Why put your trust in something that cannot meet the deepest needs of your life, and is destined to ultimately
play out?  Money is a poor substitute for God.  

III.  MONEY HAS BEEN ENTRUSTED TO US BY GOD.  
This is the basic point of the parable that Jesus gave.  We are to value money in light of the fact that it has
been entrusted to us by a wise and sovereign God.  

1. It is not the most important thing God entrusts to us.  
Jesus calls money "the least" trust.  There are several other things that are more important on God's scale of
values than money.  Our relationship with Him is more important.  Our health is more important. Your family is
more important  The gospel of Jesus Christ is more important.  The church is more important.  But money is
something that God has entrusted to us.  

2.  We are accountable to God for how we use our money.  
This is the basic thing that we need to understand about a trust.  We are managers of God's resources.  We
are accountable to God for what we do with His resources.  If we use this which God has entrusted to us
properly, then we can make friends through money for eternity.  This is what Jesus encourages us to do in the
parable.  


This changes your whole perspective on money.  When you hold it in your hand with an awareness that "it is
not mine, but "It has been entrusted to me by God," and "I am accountable to Him for what I do with it," then
you begin to handle it very carefully.  He has given to me and to you a great deal of freedom in our
management of His resources.  But He still holds us responsible for how we manage the resource that He has
entrusted to us.  Anyone who handles money as though it was theirs is playing the part of a fool.  They are
ignoring the supreme reality of life.  Worldly wealth must be used in light of the fact of our ultimate
accountability to God.  Jesus wants us to remember what Chuck Swindoll wrote a number of years ago.  

"Money can buy medicine, but not health.
Money can buy a house, but not a home.
Money can buy companionship, but not friends,
Money can buy entertainment, but not happiness.
Money can buy food, but not an appetite.
Money can buy a bed, but not sleep.
Money can buy a crucifix, but not a savior.
Money can buy a good life, but not eternal life.

Money is something God has entrusted to us for a little while.  It gives us the potential of making life better for
ourselves, easier for others, and a glorifying the God we know and worship.  We are accountable to Him for
what we do with it.