I preached yesterday on ‘How to handle money.’ Somewhat ironic, given that two of the three men in my family are accountants. I am the exception (and my brother was in the congregation).
I talked about that odd little story from the start of Luke 16 (commentators tend to reckon it’s about the most difficult of Jesus’ parables) and went on to highlight how Jesus develops some pointers on money.
If you have an hour or two in a decent Christian bookshop or Bible College library, you can survey the commentators and the various issues. Whatever you decide about the various questions (was the ‘discount’ actually the manager’s commission/was it an interest charge/who is the ‘master’ in verse 8?), the main point of the story seems to be very clear: Jesus wants his followers to be wise in the way they use their money.
The story of the ‘unjust manager’ is an illustration of the way that the ‘sons of this age’ know how to work the system to their advantage. They are smart, shrewd and strategic.
When my life ends I will not be able to take with me whatever wealth I may have. But there is a sense in which I can send it on ahead.
‘Don’t stack up treasure for yourself on earth,’ said Jesus. It’s simply not secure. In the 21st century, if it’s not moth and rust, it is property market collapses, negative equity, pension shortfalls and the like.
‘But lay up treasure in heaven.’
Not that you should ask in your local bank if they have a special heavenly investment section, but there is a connection between how we use what we have now and the foundation we are preparing for the future, as Paul makes clear to Timothy when he instructs him on what to say to rich people. Doing good, being rich in good works, being generous and ready to share are all part of future-oriented investment.
Tickets for eternal life are not on sale – the price for that has been paid! But Jesus wants me to be wise and strategic in how I use my money; that means using it with an eternal perspective.