From four readings from Rick Warren’s Daily Hope daily on-line devotional, posted January 23, 24, 25, and 27, 2020 at: http://www.pastorrick.com
How to Be a Wise Manager
You don’t really own anything. What you think you own is really on loan. You didn’t own it before you were born. You’re not going to own it after you die. It all belongs to God, and he just loans it to you for a few decades.
Jesus told a story in Luke 16 about a man who let a manager take care of his property. We’re all in management. Everything you have is a gift from God, and he gives it to you for a while to steward. He wants to see that you’re going to wisely manage what belongs to him. God wants to see if you’ll be a good manager of his property.
The first verse in this story says, “Once there was a rich man who had a manager to take care of his business” (Luke 16:1 NCV). But the manager was wasting his master’s possessions.
Anytime you waste money, you’re wasting God’s money. Understanding that truth will change the way you buy.
Seeing your money as God’s will change the way you think. Seeing yourself as just a manager and not the owner will change your life and allow you to make the most of what you’ve been given.
Three Ways God Tests You Through Your Finances
God uses money to test you. He doesn’t just automatically give his blessings to anybody. He tests you first to see if you’re responsible. Before God gives you spiritual power, he gives you material possessions. If you’re not managing money well, then why in the world should he give you the stuff that really matters?
God’s favorite tool to test you is your finances, and he’s looking for three specific things.
Money shows what you love most. You’re going to give your most time and money to whatever you love most—and your calendar and bank statement will prove it. Jesus says, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth . . . Store your treasures in heaven . . . Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Matthew 6:19-21 NLT). Wherever you want your heart to be, put your money there, and you’ll get interested in it.
Money shows what you trust most. It shows what you have faith in. Are you trusting in money or God for security? Are you trusting in money or God for your happiness? Proverbs 11:28 says, “Trust in your money and down you go! Trust in God and flourish as a tree!” (TLB).
Money shows if God can trust you. Unmanaged finances are a symptom of an unmanaged life. God is looking to see how well you manage material things before he gives you spiritual blessing. The Bible says, “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11 NIV).
There is a direct connection between maturity and money. There’s a direct connection between spiritual power and how you handle possessions. There is a direct connection between God’s blessing in your life and what you do with your bucks.
Don’t miss the connection.
What’s the Best Way to Use Your Money?
The best use of your money is helping people get into heaven. Jesus says, “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9 NIV).
What is Jesus not saying here? He’s not saying you can buy your way into heaven, because you can’t. Jesus already paid that price on the cross. He’s not saying you can purchase your salvation, because you can’t. It’s free. It’s a gift. It’s by grace.
What he’s saying is to use your money to build relationships—spiritual friendships—that will go on and on for eternity. Use your affluence for good influence.
When you use your money to help other people meet Jesus, you make friends for eternity, and you gain rewards for eternity.
Imagine: One day you’re going to die. When you get to heaven, you might encounter a hundred people there, standing at the entrance to heaven, clapping and cheering and saying, “We’ve been waiting for you. We’re so glad you’ve arrived. We’re here because you spent some money to tell us the Good News. We’re your friends for life—no, eternity—because we’re in debt to you. If it weren’t for the way you used your money, we wouldn’t have heard how to get to heaven.”
Are you using any of your money to do that? Is anybody going to be in heaven because of how you chose to spend your money?
When you buy a Bible and give it to somebody who doesn’t have one, you’ve just stored up treasure in heaven. When you support a ministry that shares the Good News with people around the world, you have invested in eternity. When you help build a church that guides people toward knowing God in a personal way, you have stored up treasure in heaven.
That is the highest and best use of your money, because you’re sending it on ahead.
You can’t take it with you, but you can send it ahead to heaven. How? By investing in people who will one day be there with you.
What to Do if You Want to Hear ‘Well Done’
One day there’s going to be an audit on your life. On that day, you will have to answer for not only how you spent your money but also how you used everything God gave you. What did you do with what you were given—your talent, your relationships, your opportunities, your mind, your creativity, your contacts, your time? What did you do with what God gave you?
God’s church is filled with people at every level of economic status—people who are very poor, others who are very rich, and everyone in between. But it doesn’t matter how much or how little you’ve got. What matters is what you do with what you’ve been given and if God can trust you with more.
Your time as a manager on earth is going to end one day, and you will give an account for what was entrusted to you. The Bible says, “Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God” (Romans 14:12 NIV).
You’re not going to live on earth forever. You weren’t meant to. But God has entrusted certain assets to you as a manager while you’re here. He is watching you and testing you and wants to see how you handle what you’ve been given.
What are you doing with the mind he gave you? What are you doing with the health he gave you? What are you doing with the freedom he gave you? Are you spending it all on yourself? Do you believe the whole purpose of life is to live for yourself?
You can decide now what you want your life to be about, and then start making choices that show God you want to live for what really matters. When you use your resources to make an eternal difference, you will hear God say to you someday, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
O Lord, who hast warned us that thou wilt require much of those to whom much is given; and who in thy infinite love hast entrusted to us both the knowledge of thy truth and the gifts of thy bounty: Help us to use them as good stewards, giving liberally and working diligently, that we may share in bringing all people to thy truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal, 1958, #75, (adapted)