Luke 16:1-13

“No Point In Having It If You Don’t Use It!”

September 18, 2016

            The parable that Jesus told in Luke 16:1-13 of the dishonest manager is difficult for us to understand.  What is Jesus saying here? What does this Parable mean for us? Parables are stories that are intended to teach a lesson, so what’s the lesson in this parable?

            How do you think Jesus would tell this Parable if He were telling it today? While we can’t really be sure, maybe it would go something like this:

            Joe worked for a major textile corporation.  This corporation made a variety of products. They made carpets, towels, rugs, bed sheets, almost anything desired in textiles was manufactured by this company. Joe was always looking for ways to make money, ways to “get ahead”, and he didn’t care if the money was made honestly or otherwise. Because he wanted to make money and didn’t care if he came about it by honest means or not, Joe came up with a plan to make some extra money, in fact  a lot of extra money.  He was one of the top executives in the corporation, so he learned months in advance what new products they were planning to distribute and what innovations would be introduced to products already on the market.  Every year when he was told of new products or innovations on old ones, he would immediately inform the competition, and, as you can imagine,  he would be paid a great deal of money for doing this. Everything went as planned until one day at a staff meeting his boss informed the staff that they thought that someone was tipping off the competition, and that they would discover, and fire,  whoever was doing this.  Joe felt that his boss was looking directly at him as he said this, but instead of “coming clean” and confessing to his boss, Joe got busy land learned all the advanced styles and techniques in the business.  If he was going to be fired, he thought to himself, he was going to make sure he knew everything there was to know about the business so he would be able to secure another job with one of the other textile corporations in the area.  Well, finally one day Joe’s boss called him into his office.  He had been discovered.  He was fired. He acted as if he were upset,  but the next day it was announced that Joe had secured a higher-paying job at one of the competing textile firms.

            What do you think Jesus would say about Joe? Would He say that Joe had done a good job and that our business ethics and business dealings should be like his? No, I don’t think Jesus would say that. But what He might say is this: “I wish my people would be as crafty and scheme as much about how to get my work done as this man was in planning how to get his job done.” Jesus would not condone Joe’s actions. In fact, He didn’t condone the actions of the man in the parable He told here in Luke 16.  The dishonest steward was a scoundrel. Jesus is not condoning shady business practices at all in this parable, but he may be saying:  “Why can’t y’all be just as worried about my work as this manager was about his?” “Why can’t y’all plan, scheme, and plot ways to get my work done? You plan, scheme and plot to get your work done, why not mine?”

            Let me ask you a question.  How do you use what God has given you? Do you use all you have for God’s kingdom and to spread God’s love to the world? Do  you use all that God has given you  to get God’s work done in the Church, the community, and the world, or do you use what you have for your glory, for your will, to satisfy what you perceive your needs to be?

Where are your priorities? Is it a priority for you to use what you have, what God has blessed you with, for your job or your entertainment, your material needs,  or is it your priority for you to use what you have and  to do what you can to serve God and serve others?

            Jesus is not saying that the actions of the manager in His parable were right, but I think that He is saying that we need to be as concerned with getting God’s work done as the dishonest manager was in getting his own work done. 

            Think about it. Are you all that different from this manager in Jesus’ story? While you may not cheat and defraud as this manager did,  but if you’re like most people you have your own ways of making sure that your businesses is a success and that your needs are taken care of.  You have your own ways of making sure that your job is secure. You probably make certain that you use everything that you have to make your business or your job as lucrative for you as possible.      

            But what about God’s work? What do you use to make sure that the work of God will get done? What about the Church? What do you use to make sure that the work and ministry of the Church gets done in the best way possible? Too many times God’s work gets what’s left over after you get your work done. The work of God and the Church gets your leftover time, your leftover energy, your leftover ideas, and your leftover enthusiasm. Friends, it should not be that way. You need to use the best of what you have for God’s work in the Church, in the community, and in the world, not what you have left over.

            God has blessed you with so much. It’s up to you to look for, plan for, and yes, even scheme ways to use what God has blessed you with for God’s work, God’s glory, God’s mission, and to show God’s love in the Church, the community, and the world.  God has blessed you with so much, but God may be asking you: “What are you doing with what I have given you?” 

            When it comes to the gifts and abilities God has given you, there is no point  in having them if you don’t use them! There is no point in having an ability if you don’t use it for God!

            You need to use what you have, and all that you have, to get the work of God in the Church, the community, and the world accomplished. Spend time planning how you can help accomplish God’s work, just as you spend time planning how you are going to accomplish yours.  Commit your time to God’s work, just as you do to yours.  Take the work of God as seriously as you do your other work.

            You might spend hours planning how to make your business a success and doing what you need to do to make your business successful, but how much time do you spend planning how to make the work of God in the Church, the community,  and the world a success?

            God has indeed blessed you, and it’s up to you to use what He has blessed us with.      When it comes to the abilities and gifts God has given you, there is no point in having it if you don’t use it!

            Use what God has blessed you with!  Get involved in the work of God!             The work of God, the work of the Church, the work God wants to be done in the community and in the world, is of vital importance. It takes commitment. It takes time.     It takes planning. It takes your realizing God’s gifts to you and using all that God has blessed you with to get His work done.

            Yes, it takes time to participate in the work of the Church.  It takes time to participate in the worship, the learning, the fellowship, and the outreach that goes on here and in the community. I’m not going to lie to you and say that it doesn’t. What I  will say, though, is that you need to be willing to take the time it takes to participate in as many of the services, programs, and activities that we have, as many  of the  things God is doing through us here at Edgewood, as you can. You also need to take the time to help plan how the work of the Church, the work of God in the community and the world, can get done in the best way possible. The work of the Church, the work God is doing and calls you to take part in within these walls and in the community takes time. It also takes money. It also takes commitment.  It takes imagination.  It takes all these things, just like your daily job does. Be willing to give the work of God in the Church, the community, and the world the things you can give it so it can get done.  

            When it comes to the abilities and gifts God has given you – there is indeed no point in having it if you don’t use it!

            In the book A Third Helping Of Chichen Soup For The Soul  Marion Doolan relates the following story of how she discovered how rich she really was, and how she could use what God had blessed her with. She tells of a cold winter day when two children in ragged, outgrown coats knocked on her door.  When she went to the door, one of them asked: “Any old papers, lady?” Doolan was busy working on her household budget, but asked the children in and served them cocoa and toast with jam to fortify them against the chill outside.  After a few minutes one of the children held the empty cup in which she had served them the cocoa, looking at it. The  other child asked Doolan: “Lady, are you rich?” “Am I rich? Mercy, no!” Doolan replied. The child holding the cup put her cup back in its saucer. “But you must be’  the other child said “Your cups match your saucers.” After the children left, Doolan   thought to herself, matching cups and saucers, things she took for granted, but things these children thought were signs of wealth.   As she moved the chairs back from the fireplace where she had served the children she thanked God for how rich she really was, and prayed to always use what she had to get God’s work done.

            Friends, you may want to get rich, but the truth is you are rich! God has richly blessed you with so much that you can use in here. You can use what God has blessed you with in this Church, in this  community, and in the world. It’s up to you to use what God has given you.

            What good is it if you don’t use it?

            The work of God in this Church,  the work of God in this community, and the work of God in the world  takes all you have! A better way to put that is that it takes all that God has blessed you with! Don’t take what God has blessed you with for granted, and don’t let it go to waste.  Don’t let it be of no use because you don’t use it! Amen.