It’s All about Money, Isn’t it?

Luke 16: 1-15

You  will find this short history lesson interesting I believe.  On our coins  and on our currency are the words:  In God We Trust.  This phrase was  first found in the fourth verse of our national anthem (which, of course, you  all know).  There is says “And this be our motto: In God is our  Trust.”  That was engraved on our coins for the first time in 1864, and was  printed on our currency since 1957.

I  cannot tell you how appropriate I believe that is.  For many people money  is their master and lord, their god.  We are not immune from that  possibility ourselves.  The lure of money to bring us all that we think we  need seems to be engraved on our hearts and in our brains.

It  is for that reason that during this season of learning and growing our faith in  Jesus, he cautions us in the reading from Luke’s Gospel for today about  money.  He says:  “No servant can serve two masters, for either he  will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and  despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.”

What  are we to do with our money?  “Make friends for yourselves by means of  unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal  dwellings,” is the command of this person we call Jesus.

What  precisely does that mean?  How do we make “friends” with money, eternal  friends that is?  Why is money said to be “unrighteous”?  Is life all  just about money?  Perhaps it is!

Let’s  spend a moment on this “unrighteous” idea about money.  Money does not make  us righteous.  It cannot make things right between God and us.  In the  city of Florence, Italy, you can be impressed by the great cathedral, the  Duomo.  How did the people find the resources to build this mammoth  church.  The answer is that the Medici who ruled the city and were not  moral in any sense gave the money to the church so that they might escape  damnation for all their misdeeds of loan sharking, bribery, murder, and so much  more.

Well,  from what God says in Holy Scripture, we are saved by trusting in the merits and  mediation of only one person and that person is Jesus who died to forgive all  our sins, which just happen to include our lust for money, our trust in money to  bring us joy, peace, and pleasure, to say nothing of the security which money  seems to offer us very openly and blatantly.

It  just happens that our society in this century as in previous ones is based on  profit making.  That is, making money.  Here’s what you do with  money.

Get  rid of wrinkles; get a facelift.  Make yourself smell good.  Buy  clothes that expose as much of your body as you can get by with.  The  larger house will give you pleasure and status.  You don’t want your  neighbors to think you have to drive a car that is that old; get a new  one.  Of course, it will be better than the last, safer, more economical  (after you spend on that money to buy it?), and give you instant recognition as  a person of means.

Your  old furniture is boring and worn out; no interest payments for 4 years!  Do  you have the latest in athletic shoes?  How about your clothes?  When  people look at you, do they see stylish clothes and accessories, or are you  content with stuff made so many years ago?  What are the logos on your  shirts?  Are they some knock-off brands from a chain store that sells to  everyone? No class, is that you?

Of  course, we have to provide for our families and ourselves.  We load up on  insurance for the house and the car.  We have health insurance, life  insurance, long term car insurance, and perhaps even term insurance.  You  have to have an IRA, a 401(k), and other investments for the years when you  retire and have all the leisure time in the world.

Well,  yes, we give away some of what we have: used stuff goes to Good Will or the  Salvation Army, some to the church and perhaps a favorite charity or some  research that fights the disease we are fearful of getting from our family who  has a history of dying from it.

Our  lives seem to center around money.  We could always use more.  Few of  us have not dreamed of winning the lottery and having all those cares and  concerns once and for all behind us!  Or maybe you’re waiting for the old  folks to die and leave you a bundle.

We  buy more than we need; consume too much; criticize the government for wasting  our money; dread the IRS; and the annual tax bills on property we own.  You  and I have never worried about money, have we?  When Jesus told the rich  young man to sell all that he had and give to the poor, didn’t that cause us a  bit, just a bit of anxiety because we knew we could never do that?  After  we’ve spent too much, do we ever have a twinge of conscience over our frivolous  use of money?  Or do we simply follow the dictates of our world and our  belief that somehow it will give us what we want?

It’s  all about money, isn’t it?  So  we are to make friends with this filthy lucre so that they welcome us in the  eternal habitations.  That must mean heaven, I presume.

We  can understand what that means by looking at this story told about a rich man  and his cheating, dishonest business manager.  The owner commended this  dishonest manager because of his shrewdness.   We might find this  quite astonishing coming from the mouth of Jesus.  Jesus states that people  in the business world are more shrewd that those who follow him.  They  prepare for the future they think they know about.

I  am not sure we can claim much more honesty than this unjust manager had.   We have not been any more faithful in our use of what we have received from God,  have we?!  It all belongs to him.  So we should not get too upset  about the story Jesus told about a dishonest person like we are.

How  do we make friends with what our gracious God has given us, so that they will  welcome us when we reach the final destination of being in the presence of God?

When  we  finally arrive in heaven by the  undeserved kindness of our heavenly Father because of what Jesus has done for us  in his life, death and resurrection, there will be people whom you see speaking  to God our Father and saying to him, “You’re got to let that lady in.  I  know she did a lot of stuff that you hate, but she was moved by your love for  her in Jesus to help us and give us comfort in our distress.  Through her,  I heard of your Son Jesus even though she never heard of me until this moment.”

Another  will chime in:  “And he gave me food when I couldn’t get a job or  work.  He cheerfully paid his taxes through which I received medical  attention.  He doesn’t know it but he clothed and housed me when I didn’t  have a place to stay.  You have got to let him in because he did what you  asked him to do.  You provided and he gave without thinking what it might  mean to him or his future.  He knew you by your grace and trusted you to  care for him.  Let him in, Jesus!”

Those  are the kinds of friends we can make through our use of the money God provides  to us through our work and investments.

We  don’t do this because we hope to get into heaven through doing that.  No,  that way has been more than generously provided for us.  We know that all  too many times we have worried about money, and  all those times and that  energy wasted are not held against us because of the Story Teller, Jesus.   He died that we might be forgiven and live forever.  He rose to assure us  that this life is but a pilgrimage to the eternal mansion he provides, not we.

If  he did all that for us, are we going to think that it is all about money?   Is it?

Will  your motto be: In God we trust?  Or will we take the alternate route with  our visa and discover all kinds of excitement and believe we hold the master  card of life as we forsake the motto on our money, for money  itself?

A Message from Rev Walter W. Harms  brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain  View, Arkansas.  For prayer or more  information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer

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