Pentecost 18
October 7, 2001
Luke 16:8
"What You can Learn from a Thief"

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And his lord commended the unrighteous steward because he had done wisely: for the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of the light.

INTRODUCTION: Jesus uses a common crook, a thief, the unjust steward, to teach us a lesson about money.  He, of course did not suggest that we imitate the thief, but he points to a principle involved. The thief was prudent and shrewd in using money to get security when he needed it. Jesus, in our Gospel lesson for this morning is asking us to be as wise as "the sons of this world" This morning let's consider the lesson of the thief.  A thief says to us, "be shrewd"

1.     The thief says to us "be shrewd" in spending money.

"My money is my own and I'll spend it any way I want" is a response we all are tempted to think when the subject of money matters comes up... There is the stereotype that all the church wants is our money. Not so! The church is interested in all of you - But the thing is, how we use our resources is often a window to the soul. Let's consider a few principles on the spending and saving of our money as the Savior directs us this morning.

With respect to spending we only have so much given to us each pay period. How we use it determines our proprieties. In spending our money…

A.   We don't waste our money; on vices, or excessive entertainment. Notice, that entertainment is not to be excluded. Each is entitled to enjoy one's self. The problem with using the resources that God has given to us happens when we use it to excess. As the line from a popular song in the 180's went "I keep working for the weekend" which simply says that all too many have their priorities wrapped up in working hard five days only to spend it in two or three. This leads to a question. Is our work only made tolerable with the thought of spending it all on the weekend?  To borrow a few lines from the Country hit " Old Enough To Know Better:

"When the eagle flies on Friday
Well he barely leaves the ground
I've got just enough left to get dressed up
And head back to town
Boss says "Son, having all that fun
Won't get you anywhere"
I'm old enough to know better
But I'm still too young to care

Monday morning I wake up
With a hammer in my hand
The boss-man yelling something at me
That I don't understand
I don't know how I got to work
But I sure know I'm there
I'm old enough to know better
But I'm still too young to care"

  (Chick Rains/Wade Hayes)

The point is clear; we do not want to squander our money away focusing on excesses. Occasionally some have asked me if there is a mandate on how much one should give to church. 10% or the tithe is a good benchmark. Yet a good benchmark is to examine your entertainment spending. There's nothing intrinsically wrong spending money on entertainment. However, if you are willing to spend so much on entertainment the least you can do is return an equal amount to the Lord.

B.    Neither do we want to gamble our money away. The gaming industry has become big business in our world today. Two years ago the news hit when more folk moved through the River boat turnstiles new Cincinnati then that of King's Island fun park. Consider the odds of winning the lottery. The odds of getting struck by lightning on a clear blue day are 30 million x 1 while striking it rich on the lottery are 31 million x 1.  Lawmakers agree that the lottery is a regressive tax as the people who can least afford to part with a few dollars are the people who are tempted the most to play.

This subject bothers be because I have witnessed people who have spent two, three, sometimes $400 a week on the lottery. Gambling is not a way of saving. It does not guarantee your future. It's your ticket out. Beware of get rich schemes! No matter how appealing they appear they do not work.

C.   In spending the concept is simple -don't go into debt by spending more than you have - invest. As I have advised, try the 80/20 plan.  Take 10% and give back to the Lord, in volunteering in your offerings, in contributing to worthy causes and ministries. The other 10% put in the bank - invest wisely. The remaining 80% are yours to live off of.  If you try this method you'll never grow broke.

TRANSITION: There needs to be priorities in our spending. There also needs to be priorities in our saving.

2.     In saving money be just as wise and shrewd.

A.   Save by buying first the essentials. What would you need to survive on an island for a month? These are the essentials - which must be our first priority. Essentials first.

B.    Save by buying quality products - If you buy junk - you get junk. Purchase something that will last.  We can make jokes of the couple who has had the same couch for thirty years - But the principle is true. A quality product will last longer than an inferior one. Consider our roof project a few years ago. We selected a slate roof which has a 100 year life expectancy and in the long run is cheaper then other conventional roofs which would have to be replaced two three or four times over the same period of time. The decision made now in the long run comes at the lowest price.

C.   Save habitually for tomorrow's needs.  Whatever plans you come up with select that plan and stick with it. Save today for tomorrow's emergencies.

CONCLUSION:  There is a spiritual side to our saving.  The most common cause for divorce in America today is not infidelity - it's a lack of saving. Couple spends more then they have, they fall into economic hard times, they can't pay their bills and divorce becomes inevitable. That's the way the story goes in so many homes in this country today.  The best way we as parents can help our youth is to get them into a savings program as young as possible.

The spiritual side to our saving is seen in the way we make good on the resources the Lord has given to us. God has placed us here on this earth to be stewards. He created the world and placed us to tend, guard, and be care takers of the resources He has given us. May the Lord give us the wisdom to be good stewards of all the resources he has given to us. Even when it comes to our spending and our saving.  In Jesus' Name. Amen.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Pentecost 18 (Series C) Sermon from 1998