MAIN TEXT: Luke 12:35-48
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant whoknew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive asevere beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Inspired by the book: “Money: God or Gift” by Jamie Munson. Used with permission.
Today we wrap up our three-week series from the Gospel of Luke chapter 12 where Jesus is talking about wealth, finances, and possessions. The big idea of this series is that money can either be your god or you can use it to worship your God. We are excited to be able to go through a book together that is a powerful resource for all of us to be on mission with our wealth and possessions. We invite you to go through this in groups, as a couple, or individually.
Everything we have is from God. He owns it. We are managers. We are stewards. We are slaves in relation to the Master. God cares about what we do with what he gives us. God’s intentionality is that we would use our wealth, possessions, position, authority, etc., to bring Him glory and ultimately worship Him.
There is a fundamental idea that we must wrestle with that is essential to this text. Before we are able to plumb the depths of Jesus’ teaching, we have to understand one thing.
We are the servants.
We live in a world that would seemingly state the opposite of this reality. Surrounding us constantly are advertisements, brands, companies, products, whose sole design is to make you think that you are king. The narrative of our culture would say that you are the master and you find servants who can provide you with what you require. If God can get you a high salary job, then believe in God. If God can make you a lot of money, then believe in God. But the clear and consistent story that we are fed is that we are the masters of our lives. Our will is king. Our preference is king. Our way is king.
Stewardship in a biblical sense does not make sense within this narrative or this cultural story. The reality that Jesus shares is the reality that we are not our own, we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) and that what we have has been given to us by God (1 Corinthians 4:7). Jesus says here that you are the servant, God is the Master. This reality should deeply shape everything we are given in this life–including, but not limited to our money, wealth and possessions. This thinking should radically shape the way we view our family, our neighborhood, our workplace, our friendships, our gifts, our church community, our ethnicity, our history–everything is shaped by this all-encompassing reality.
If you don’t understand that you are the servant, the stewardship conversation is simply an investment plan that you believe will ultimately provide you with more money for you. By investing in the Kingdom, someday, you will be able to build bigger barns–because you are being “faithful” to God. In this story, God is your servant. He does your bidding. He promises you a great financial return on investment. This difference may seem subtle, but it is heading in almost the opposite direction of what Jesus calls us to in this portion of Scripture.
The time given to each one of us is limited, yet very purposeful. Jesus communicates the sober reality that judgment is coming. We are not promised another day, another month, another year. The time you have has been given to you by God for a reason.
We do not know when Jesus will return a second time, but we do know that he will return. This passage shows us that Christ calls us to prepare our hearts for his return and to stand ready. We will not know when but we should work knowing that our time here has a limit.
The Faithful and Wise Manager
According to the parable that Jesus shares, faithfulness is seen most clearly when the steward or servant embodies the benevolence, generosity, love and care of the master. The servant’s charge was to provide for the household in the master’s absence. How he provided for those in his care has everything to do with how his master viewed his faithfulness.
When you think of your life and what you’ve been entrusted with, have you considered what faithfulness to God looks like? We must all seek to embody the character of our God in the way we: spend our money, build a house, buy a car, work a job, walk in our neighborhood, cheer for our favorite team, spend our Saturday afternoon–everything. If Jesus returned tomorrow and asked, “How have you been faithful with what I’ve given to you?” would you have more excuses than answers?
The Disobedient Servant
Jesus opens an alternative scenario, where the servant who was entrusted with much responsibility not only neglected his call but abused his position for selfish gain. This servant was found in his disobedience and severely punished.
This story doesn’t end well. Justification (our right standing before God) is by faith alone, but the reformers also add the stance, “...but not by a faith that is alone.” If your faith is not followed by works, your faith is really dead and you are not trusting in Christ. The brother of Jesus, James, says it this way:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
What will you do with what God provides? The answer to this question has everything to do with your trust in the Gospel. Be a faithful servant, who strives with all diligence to embody the benevolence, generosity, love and care of your Master!
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.
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 new commandment “love your neighbor” (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
What does Jesus tell us to consider? Why does he use these two images?
Take a moment to share a story about a time when you were anxious. What helped alleviate your anxiety?
How can our stress and anxiety actually communicate our lack of faith in God?
The Good News makes Jesus our treasure. How does this affect the way you view other ‘treasure’?