God and money? Can a Christian have both? No. Yes. No? Yes? Hmm.
I am to sell all my worldly possession (Luke 18:22), but I am responsible for making sure the physical needs of widows and orphans are met (James 1:27). It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle enter the Kingdom of God (Matt 19:24), but God richly blesses men with wealth who follow him (Prov. 10:22). I am to store up my treasure in heaven (Matt 6:19), but I am told the wise man saves his riches for a rainy day (1 Cor. 16:12. Prov. 21:20). On the surface of this topic, it would seem we have contradiction, but thankfully today’s reading might help us come to a clearer conclusion when we consider two powerful, but unequal masters: God and money.
In Luke 16 we are presented with a peculiar parable that shows the strength of the almighty dollar. As the story opens, we are introduced to a dishonest manager who is in charge of accounting (a running theme) of debts for his master. He learns that his master soon will dismiss him, so as each debtor approaches the manager with their contracted commitment, he forgives a portion of their debt. Being shrewd, he knows he will be the receiver of their thanks, although it was neither his debt to forgive nor his portion to take. Jesus makes no misgiving that he was speaking specific directly to the Pharisees, who were fundamentally dealing in the same way. These “managers” of God put literal prices on forgiveness and offerings, ensuring their comfort, but cheating God of glory, praise, adoration, honor, or extending grace himself. They, like the shrewd manager, traded their merciful Master for passing provision.
In Dale Carnegie’s famous work, How to Win Friends and Influence People, he states “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” This is a challenging thought that calls us to contentment, but also in context of this specific parable, helps us increase our focus. Are you the master or the manager of your wealth? time? health? will? Are they yours to divide, take, or utilize as you please? Who receives honor, praise, and recognition when you offer these things freely to others? Sometimes we are as shrewd as the Pharisees, thinking a possession, a place, or a position is the source of a joyful life. They make us feel momentarily like the master, but really, they take us away from our true purpose.
Jesus concludes this parable by saying if we cannot be trusted with the small things, why would God ever give us the BIG things. If we cannot rely upon him for our own daily bread why would he ever ensure we are the steward for the needs of others? If we are faithful to Him, we are entrusted with more of His bidding, not in direct correlation, but determined by the master (See: “Parable of the Talents”). Yes, this can include money. Yes, this can include more time on earth. BUT GLORY, HALLELUJAH, YES, he is talking about the KINGDOM.
So, can you have God and money? Yes. Can you serve two masters? No. Will God give you more if you are faithful? Yes. Is it money? Not necessarily, but IT IS the Master’s wealth beyond measure for His faithful managers.