March 7/8

MAIN TEXT: Luke 16:1-9

He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world aremore shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you,make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

Let’s be clear, our works do not justify us before God. In other words, your standing before a holy, righteous and just God is not due to the good things you’ve done, but is due only to the work of Christ on your behalf. If we are counting on our goodness to put us in right relationship with God, we will deceive ourselves.

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ

Philippians 3:8-9

This passage shows the heart of Paul for the way that he viewed his life and ministry. As Christians, it is vital that we understand the limited time that we have and the work that God desires to do through us to show His Kingdom to this broken world.

Our passage for today is from the third gospel, The Gospel of Luke and in it he shares a story that Jesus told his disciples about a dishonest manager. What are we to gather from this story? Many Christians struggle on how to apply this story to their lives and wrestle with some of the ethically questionable pieces to this particular story. However, there is a vital and valuable lesson that every Christ-follower must see in this story that Jesus shares. This message is utterly simple, yet, when applied to our lives, can transform even the most ordinary items of our day into opportunities to glorify God with our lives.

 

The Kingdom is Upon Us

The reality of the Kingdom of God that Jesus is presenting is the reality of Himself. In Matthew 4:17, Jesus declares at the very starting point of his public ministry, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This statement is a declaration that the waiting period is over, the King has come to inaugerate the Kingdom of God in the hearts of His people. From this point onward, the Kingdom of God, not set up through government policies, legislation or political power, would be infused within the regenerated hearts of those whose faith and trust was in Jesus. This Kingdom has no end (Isaiah 9:7).

We are in the period of redemptive history that some would call the “mission” period. This era is categorized by the commission of Jesus on his Church to “go and make disciples of all nations” and is undergirded with the command to “love our neighbor”.

As the Church, we have been charged to showcase what the Kingdom of God looks like. To offer a taste of this glorious Kingdom and to stand in stark contrast to the weaker kingdoms of this world. Our call is to bathe ourselves in the truth that in Christ, the work is done. That we are to live in the reality that through Christ, God is doing a great work in us and through us. All this is done not only for the sake of mankind (in particular) but for the entire creation (at large).

 

Take advantage of every moment

The manager was indeed dishonest. Let’s make no mistake, the conduct of the manager was not something that Jesus was saying we need to replicate in our lives. We ought not deal dishonestly with others and think that we are doing a noble thing. No, but there is something very valuable we must learn from this story. The lesson is that the manager took advantage of his limited time, resource, energy and position and leveraged these things for his future. This is the powerful lesson.

If this dishonest manager who understood the elementary principles of how this world operates, took advantage of his capabilities for future gain, how much more, we who have been renewed in our minds and regenerated in our hearts ought to realize that we need to take every advantage we have while we have breath in our lungs. We must leverage our resources for the building of the Kingdom of God.

This is the principle that we understand from this story. This is not a parallel story where we can substitute the rich man for God and the shrewd manager for us. This would be incorrectly understanding the focus of this story. One of the main points is that the manager took advantage of his limited time and secured himself future gain.

You have been entrusted with much by God. Whether you realize it or not, your very life has been given to you by Him and you will be held accountable to Him for how you spent your energy, your time, your money, your resources in this life (limited time) to make His Kingdom known to this broken world, in order that the world may know, love and cherish Jesus.

 

Invest greatly into the Kingdom

The manager invested heavily into his future, albeit in dishonest ways. However, the mindset that he had was that his current state would end and a future reality would be established. He chose to use his time to invest in his future reality.

We have been charged by Jesus to be faithful with what has been entrusted to us (Luke 16:10-13), to realize the vapor of this life (James 4:14) and work hard to the establishment of God’s Kingdom as God works powerfully in us to conform us into the image of Jesus.

This task is no minor matter. It is the chief mission of the Church–to go into the farthest reaches of the world (and across the street) and make known the Gospel–the good news of the Kingdom of God, which is Jesus Himself. The work is great, and there will be opposition. However, the reward is eternal and the honor of submitting all our resources to the Kingdom of God will far outweigh any self-focused pursuit that you can imagine.

Invest yourself into the work that will last


APPLY TO LIFE

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


BLESS RHYTHMS

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

DISCUSS THE MESSAGE

Read: Luke 16:1-9

Share your initial impressions of this story that Jesus shares. Do you struggle with this story? Why or why not?

In what ways are we called to be like the dishonest/shrewd manager? In what ways should we not emulate him?

Take a survey of how your invest your resources, energy, time and money for the Kingdom. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom on how to invest deeply into the Kingdom of God.

How is the Gospel (and the reality that the work is done) our greatest motivator for investing ourselves into the work that will last?