No one offers better “investment advice” than Jesus does in His “Parable Of The Unjust Steward” in Luke 16:1-13. In v.11 He makes a significant connection between our faith and the way we handle our financial resources: “…if you have not been faithful with the unrighteous money, who will trust you with what is genuine?” Seek after the “genuine” spiritual wealth & riches of a God-focused life; NOT, the temporal wealth of this world! If you cannot be trusted with the temporary wealth of this world, how can God trust you with the true riches of a deep relationship with Him? As long as your passion is the stuff of this world, you’ll never grow deep in your faith and your walk with the Lord!
The Problem With Earthly Treasures
In Matthew’s gospel Jesus put it like this: “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.” Jesus offers additional “investment advice” when He uses the unjust steward to remind us that one day we’ll be “…called in to give an account…” (v.2) Every year I hire the services of an accountant to prepare my taxes for the day I must “give an account”—April 15th. In the parable, the Master—the real owner—calls in the steward to “give an account” of the way he had managed his Master’s resources. “If you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what is your own?” Jesus asks (v.12)
Managing God’s Stuff
The Apostle Paul warned the believers in Corinth, “ We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may give an account for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless” (2 Cor 5:10) So, spend your Master’s resources as one who must “give an account”; not, as autonomous! If you see yourself as an owner you’ll live as though you’re autonomous; that, you have the freedom to do with your stuff as you please; like, you’re the Sovereign! The judgment seat of Christ will determine how faithful you were in the management of all the stuff God gave you to steward for Him!
Whose Slave Are You?
Jesus concludes the “Parable Of The Unjust Servant” like this: “…you can’t be slaves to both God and money.” v.13 You will choose one or the other! Everyone does! And, the judgment will reveal it— “good stewards” or “worthless stewards”? Enslaved to money & stuff? Be a worthless steward to God! Or, make God your Master & leverage the money & stuff for His kingdom purposes! We need to regularly, intentionally give everything back to God! Tell yourself, “I need to emotionally pry my fingers off everything I own…God, this is Your house…Your car…Your job…Your 401k; How do You want me to manage it for You?”
The “tithing” question almost always revolves around “how much do we have to give?” Do we still have to give 10%? Isn’t that just in the Old Testament? I’ve heard people argue that it’s their money and they’ll give to causes or projects that they believe in; while, others claim they don’t give because churches & pastors have misused church offerings and can’t be trusted! Some have told me that they can’t tithe because they can’t afford it— “There’s always too much month left at the end of our money,” they say. Others say that they’re afraid to tithe— “What happens if we fall on hard times & we’ve given all that money to the church?”
It’s All About Your Heart
In counseling people about their finances, I’ve found that it’s ultimately not a “tithing” question; but, a “heart” issue! Where is your heart? God addresses money matters so frequently—it’s estimated there are over 2000 verses speaking on money—because our financial interests have a way of stealing our heart more than anything else in life! I’ll just admit right now that I probably won’t satisfy your curiosity about tithing in this post. If we just focus on whether to tithe or not to tithe it can quickly turn into legalism and a fulfilling of the letter of the law. I’ll just say this much: I believe there is Scriptural support that if O.T. giving was a tenth under law, that nothing less than that would be the starting point under grace!
Are You A Steward Or An Owner?
In Luke 16, Jesus unpacks some financial principles in His parable about the unjust steward. I’ll only deal with one of those principles here—Jesus teaches us to think like a steward of our stuff; not an owner! God is like the rich man in the story & we’re the steward! The reason the steward was unjust? Because he handled his master’s money as though it were his own! The psalmist wrote: “The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him” Psalm 24:1. See also Psalm 50:10 & 1 Corinthians 4:7. This is bigger than a tithing question! God says it’s not 10% His and 90 % ours! It’s ALL HIS! ALL of it! We’re just managing God’s stuff? Are you acting like a steward over your stuff or an owner?
Faithful In Little; Faithful In Much
Take a look at v.10 in that Luke 16 passage—Jesus teaches us to also be content with the stuff He’s given us to manage, not covetous! “Whoever is faithful in very little is faithful in much.” I’ve heard people say they can’t tithe because they don’t make enough money. That’s backward thinking! The tithe comes 1st— “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops” Prov. 3:9. Jesus is ultimately saying here that if you don’t tithe with your current income you wouldn’t if you made twice as much— if you’re unrighteous in little you’ll be unrighteous in much! And, I’ve seen that played out way too often!