Sunday School 4/29/2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

Wednesday, April 29th

Wow, now we are having “Sunday” School on “Wednesday” nights!

Luke 16:1-13

  • 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.
  • And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
  • Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
  • I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
  • If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
  • And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
  • No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Preparing for Heavenly Retirement.  That is what I get from this.  I have read commentary after commentary on this parable.  It is not an easy passage of scripture to understand.  Everyone has a different take on what it means. I have tried to give you lots of input from the main commentaries that I usually read each week.  Also, a lot of this is just my thinking (that’s scary) so please keep that in mind.  I guess this is my disclaimer in case I am totally off base!  Anyway, hope to have a lot of discussion during our class this week.

First of all, let’s start off with the word steward.

A steward is someone who is employed to manage another’s property, especially a large house or estate. 

Synonyms for Steward:  manager, overseer, caretaker, custodian, agent

From what I can understand, the rich man hired this guy to oversee his property which included collecting any debts owed to him.  I’m thinking that the debts were usually paid after a crop was harvested and possibly were paid with the crop itself (oil and wheat in this case).  Just my guess.

Anyway, the rich man had heard that his steward (manager) was “wasting his goods”.  Not sure exactly what the guy was doing, but whatever it was, the rich man was not happy when he found it out.  In fact, he told him, get ready to go over the books with me, I’m giving you your notice…you will no longer be in my employment. 

So the steward says to himself “what to do? What to do?”  I can’t handle a regular job (not sure if it was his health or laziness or just the thought of manual labor) and I’m too ashamed to beg. 

He decides that he needs to do something to secure his future.  He is going need some friends when he is out of a job. 

According to Dr. William Bean, it was discovered that in the first century, the master (the employer) did not pay the steward (the employee) a wage. Instead, a steward made his money by adding his fees onto the bills of his master’s debtors (the customers). When the debtor receives the bill from the steward, he does not know what amount on the bill belongs to the master and what amount belonged to the steward, only the steward would know. When the debtors would pay their bill to the steward, the steward would pocket his portion of the bill and then forward the remaining money to his master.

As this steward is called “unrighteous,” we can assume that he was placing an extraordinary high amount on the bills for his fee, in order to make large amounts of money, at the expense of his master and his master’s debtors. However, when he found out he was going to be fired, he took the debtors bills and reduced, or eliminated, the amount owed to him. Thereby currying favor with these debtors in the hopes that one of them may hire him due to his perceived “generosity.”

This explanation made verse 8 more understandable to me.  The lord (notice it is not capitalized so I am taking it that it is the steward’s boss, not the LORD), commended him for being wise (shrewd) in that he made it look like he was lowering their bill, but he was actually just eliminating his part of the profit.  As I see it, this way, his boss did not lose any more money in this deal.  

As David Guzik put it

The steward, knowing he would be called to account, used his present position to prepare him for the next stage of his life.

He not only fixed at least part of the problem with his boss, but he also made some brownie points with some important people who he is figuring on helping him out when he loses his job! I don’t know if this helped him keep his job or not, but maybe it kept him out of jail!

He used his present position to prepare him for the next stage in life.  Hmmm

I think it is talking about preparing (on this earth) for our life after death (heavenly retirement).  What does Matthew 6:19-21 say about laying up treasures in heaven?

Now, how do we do that?

So if I’m going to set myself up in the heavenly kingdom, I must do it now and I must take advantage of the opportunities that I have now in order set myself up for the heavenly kingdom. And this is exactly what Jesus is saying. Make use of the unrighteousness of mammon. Make use of this filthy lucre (money). This money that God places at your disposal, make use of it in such a way that you will be reaping eternal benefits from it. Invest it in the things of the kingdom in such a way that when you failed, when you come to the end of the road, you might be received into the everlasting habitations. – Chuck Smith

e. So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly: While not approving his conduct, the master did in fact approve the steward’s shrewdness. Jesus added the thought that the businessmen of his day (sons of this world) were more wise, bold, and forward-thinking in the management of what they had (more shrewd) than the people of God were with managing what they had (the sons of light).( David Guzik)

Jesus’ assessment is still true: the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. If we pursued the Kingdom of God with the same vigor and zeal that the children of this world pursue profits and pleasure, we would live in an entirely different world. It could be said that it is to the shame of the Church that Coca-Cola is more widely distributed than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Simply, it is because the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light (David Guzik)

What does shrewd mean?

  • Having or showing sharp powers of judgment; astute.

Similar words are:

  • Sharp-witted, sharp, intelligent, clever, alert, canny, perceptive, observant, wise, far-seeing, far-sighted, cunning, smart, savvy,

Opposite:

  • Stupid, unwise

So, let’s talk about this now.  In verse 9-13, I think Jesus has ended the parable and now is just back to talking/teaching his disciples (and anyone listening – like the scribes and Pharisees).  Since he has been on the subject of shrewdness, he is going to expand on that…Oh no, not another money sermon!  Did you know that out of the nearly 40 parables, 1/3 of them dealt with money?  I wonder why?  Scripture says that the love of money is the root of all evil. 

MacArthur really explains verse 9 in a way that I (simpleminded) could understand it. 

Jesus exhorted His hearers to make friends for themselves by means of the wealth of the unrighteousness, so called because it belongs to this unrighteous, passing world.  Unbelievers, like the unrighteous manager, often use money to buy earthly friends.  Believers, on the other hand, are to use their money to evangelize and thus purchase heavenly friends.  The wealth of unrighteousness, being an element of fallen society’s experience, cannot last past this present life.  When it fails, the friends believers have gained through investing in gospel preaching will welcome them into the eternal dwellings of heaven.  Those friends will be waiting to receive them when they arrive in glory because through their financial sacrifice for reaching the unconverted they heard and believed the gospel.   The Lord calls for Christians to use their money for eternal purposes to produce a heavenly reward. 

What was that last line? “The Lord calls for Christians to use their money for eternal purposes to produce a heavenly reward”.

How can we use the money the Lord has so graciously blessed us with shrewdly (wisely)?

If I had more money, I would certainly give more.  Would you?  How many times have we heard Bro. Charlie say, If you won’t give a dime out of a dollar then you won’t give $1 out of $10.  And since we are just receiving stimulus money – how about $240 out of $2400?  By the way, we are not under that 10% law anymore, we should be giving as the Lord has prospered us.  So you decide is 10% really enough?

All that we have belongs to God and we are responsible to manage it to His Glory (Matt. 25:14-29).Jesus then goes on to expand in verses 10–13 the principle given in verse 9. If one is faithful in “little” (i.e., “unrighteous” wealth), then one will be faithful in much. Similarly, if one is dishonest in little, he will also be dishonest in much. If we can’t be faithful with earthly wealth, which isn’t even ours to begin with, then how can we be entrusted with “true riches”? The “true riches” here is referring to stewardship and responsibility in God’s kingdom along with all the accompanying heavenly rewards. (GotQuestions.org)

  Spurgeon once noted that each of us will have to give account of our stewardship regarding our time, our talents, our substance, and our influence.

Just like the steward in the parable that Jesus just taught, we too will have to one day give an account of our stewardship.  It seems like we always feel hammered when tithing is brought up in a sermon.  Well, what about the other things that Spurgeon just mentioned.  Stewardship is not just about the money (although that is a very useful tool and can be used greatly in the spreading of the Gospel – makes Mrs. Virginia’s job as treasurer a lot easier too!).  Reminds me of the song that Mike sometimes sings “Thank You for giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed”.    In your heavenly retirement will you hear this?

What about our time? I wonder just how much time each of us really spend alone with God each day? How much time we take to serve in the many opportunities that are available in our church as well as the many opportunities that we are given outside the walls of the church each day.  I know, they are all on the outside of the walls of the church right now! God has such a sense of humor.  Maybe we are too comfortable with our pew (chair)!  Right now, as we are social distancing and staying home as much as possible, we should have lots of time (sorry moms and dads with children – I know it’s not easy for you being cooped up at home with the kids) to spend alone with God. Are we taking advantage of it?

What about our talents? And don’t say you do not have a talent.  God can use you in some area of your life, you just need to allow him to.  If nothing else, you can pick up the phone and actually call someone and encourage them. 

Our substance? – Everything you have belongs to God.  Use it for His Glory!   If you look up the word substance in the dictionary it can be used in a variety of ways.  But I believe here it is meaning “wealth and possessions”.   Similar words are: wealth, fortune, riches, affluence, prosperity, money, capital, means, resources, assets, property, estates, possessions.

Our influence?

  • The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
  • Similar words are:  effect, impact, authority, leadership, guidance, direction

Wow. Are you using your influence for good?

So, we come to the last verse of the lesson.  One that we have heard many, many times. 

“We cannot serve God and mammon”. 

God has to be first.  He cannot just be at the top of your list of priorities.  He must be your priority.  Choose you this day whom you will serve!

Are you getting ready for your heavenly retirement as much as you are getting ready for your earthly retirement?  Your money, time, talents, influence can only be sent ahead of you to heaven.  You can’t just hoard them now and take them with you when you go.

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