My wife and I watched History Channel’s “Men Who Built America”. The show discusses several titans of industry during Reconstruction after the Civil War up to the early 1900’s. It was incredible to see what these men did and how they operated. It was also eye opening how they would do anything to make money. Because of them, we have a lot of the labor and antitrust laws. They were often ruthless in their pursuit, but two men changed their tune as they got older and began trying to make a difference by give away their fortune to philanthropic causes and charities. J.P. Morgan gave away around $900 million in today’s money and John D. Rockefeller gave away around $540 million. To this day their philanthropic causes live on.
In Luke 16, Jesus told the story of a rich man who had a manager of his affairs. It turned out the manager was wasting the money so the rich man called him to account. The guy was afraid of being unemployed and didn’t want to beg so he cut what each person owed with all of his boss’s debtors. He figured he would make friends before he left so that he would have a place to land. The boss was impressed with how shrewd he was. Then in verse 9, Jesus said, “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home” (NLT). While Jesus doesn’t discourage us from being rich or making money, He does encourage us to give and make a difference with what we have.
In the next two verses Jesus continued, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” Sometimes we think we need to be rich to make a difference or to give, but this verse clearly tells us to be faithful with what we have, even if it’s a little. Many of us pursue more money and better jobs, but how can we handle that if we’re not making a difference with what we have. The same is true with our spiritual gifts. Many people look for ministries that are in the spotlight or get lots of attention, but God is looking to see if we can be faithful when no one sees. When we are faithful with a little, He trusts us with a lot.
Recently my wife and I were walking and a Lamborghini drove by. She asked, “If you had the money, would you ever buy one of those?” I told her I didn’t think so, but I do think they’re pretty awesome. I like to think I’d be like J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans. He makes over $15 million a year, but doesn’t drive a car like that. He said that whenever he gets the itch to drive one, he just rents one for a weekend and takes it back. The truth is, if you don’t make that kind of money, it’s hard to know what you would do with it. Would you buy a mansion? Would you drive expensive cars? Would you throw parties all the time? Would you try to eradicate poverty? Would you fund housing for the homeless? Would you support missionaries with your excess? It’s easy to give these answers when you don’t have it.
Jesus told the story of a guy who was in charge of his wealthy boss’ affairs. When it came out that he was skimming and squandering the boss’ money, he got called on the carpet to give account of how he had been managing his money. Knowing the gig was up, he decided to make friends with the boss’ debtors. He started cutting what they owed down in order to recoup the things he lent out. The boss commended him for doing that, not because he had cheated him, but because he was thinking of his future and was doing things to make sure he would be taken care of in unemployment. Then in Luke 16:10, Jesus said, “And I tell you [learn from this], make friends for yourselves [for eternity] by means of the wealth of unrighteousness [that is, use material resources as a way to further the work of God], so that when it runs out, they will welcome you into the eternal dwellings” (AMP).
The very next verse is our challenge no matter how much we make right now. Jesus said, ““He who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little thing is also dishonest in much.” No matter what you make right now, are you being faithful with it? Saying, “If I had the money, I would… (fill in the blank,)” means nothing. If you aren’t making a difference now with what you have, how can God trust you with more money? Each of us will give account to God one day just like the man in the parable. Did we do things with our resources to further the Kingdom? Or did we do things to make our lives exceptionally comfortable here? We are simply managers of the money God has entrusted to us. No matter how you’re managing it now, ask God for wisdom in how to be more faithful with what you have today.