“Can God Trust Me?”

“Can God Trust Me?”

November 9th, 2014
Pastor Mark

Luke 16:1-13

Last week Koey and I asked the question, “Can you and I trust God?” As I’m continuing this series on Stewardship on our need to Trust God, today I want to ask another question. I think last week we realized that God’s gifts are generous, and God’s care is constant. And, yes, He is trustworthy. The question I want to deal with this morning is, “Can God trust you?” Can God trust me? Let’s think about a parent and children. My kids are still young, so there hasn’t been a lot I trust them with. But, as they are getting older, I am trusting them more. The game parents must play when the kids get to be teenagers is this: Can I trust you? Can I trust you to go where you’re saying you’re going? And can I trust you to get back home on time? And every time they do it right, they get a little bit more trust; and every time they do it wrong, parents have to pull back a little bit. It’s the same way with God. The question that God has for every one of us today is: Can I trust you?

Before we get to that let’s note some facts about the Bible and money. If there is anyone here thinking this is not an appropriate topic for us to consider from the pulpit, Jesus talked about money in 16 out of 38 of His parables; and 1 out of 10 verses in the Gospels. The Bible devotes 500 verses to prayer, less than 500 verses to faith; but over 2,000 verses to money and stuff.

Here is an example, the parable of the Foolish Steward: Luke 16:1-13. When the owner came back, this unwise manager was called to accountability. “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’” Now, there are two reasons why this manager was accountable to the owner. There are two reasons why we are accountable to God.

First of all, He is the owner; I am the manager. The first reason that I’m accountable to God is because what I have today are gifts of God; I own none of it. I’m accountable to the owner. “Every good and perfect gift comes from the Lord.” Right? He’s the owner. He gives me everything. The gifts I have, He gave them to me. Every possession I have, it is a gift of the Lord. He’s the owner. I have said this to you before but it bears repeating: Nothing you have is really yours. There are no U-hauls following hearses to the cemetery.

Now, this is the No. 1 issue. Until we can settle this issue, we’re always going to have a problem in this area of management and stewardship. You see, if I believe that I am the owner, then I’m going to constantly be in conflict with God over what I do with the stuff I have. But the moment I understand that God is the owner and I am the manager, then all of a sudden the conflict disappears, because I realize everything I have right now: my health, my life, my possessions, my family, everything I have is His, not mine. Everything we have, and everything we are, belongs to God.

Now, let’s just do a little quiz here to make sure we understand this. If you made $1000 last week, and you came to church on Sunday, how much of that $1000 belongs to God? All of it. $1000 is God’s, not $100. Somebody says, “Well, let me see, 10% of $1000…” No, no, no. $100 is not God’s and $900, yours. All $1000 is God’s. The Scripture teaches us to tithe so that we will remember that it is all God’s, and we will get to that in the next two weeks. It all belongs to Him, and until we understand this issue of lordship, we’re going to be in trouble.

The second reason we are accountable to God is that the owner has expectations of the manager. When the master comes, when the owner comes back, He wants to know what has been done with the possessions that He’s given us. God expects us to dedicate ourselves to Him. He expects us to recognize that our possessions are His and we are to put them to work in His Kingdom. God expects us to use the time He has given us here on earth and be workers in His Kingdom. God expects us to take the talents He has given us and put them to work in His kingdom. That is what God, the owner, expects.
Back to the unwise steward. The moment this unwise manager realized that he was going to lose his job, look what he said in verse 3. “3And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.’” Now, this fellow realizes all of a sudden he’s in trouble. The owner comes home, doesn’t like how he’s handling the possessions and fires him. He says, “Now what am I going to do?”

So what did he do? This unwise manager began to act on what he had just discovered. And let’s look at the action of the foolish steward. Verse 4: “4I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’” Perhaps this man is knocking off the interest that was owed, and just saying, “Let’s go to the principle.” Perhaps, he was overcharging them in the first place, and all of a sudden when the owner came home, he knew he had work to do.

At any rate, there are three lessons that we can learn from this:

1. Use your opportunities wisely. (vv. 8,9)
Jesus commended the man for his wise use of opportunity. In verse 8, we see that the master praised his dishonest manager. Why? Because he did a bad job? He didn’t praise him for the bad job he did. Let me go on with the story and explain. “8The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. ‘For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.’” So why was this foolish steward commended? He was commended for the fact that when he realized there was a problem, he immediately took action to fix it.

Now, this is very important. Because some of you today may be saying, “I’m as guilty as the guy in the parable.” We have all, at times, not taken what God has given us, our stuff, our time, our talents, and put them to use in God’s kingdom. We have all been caught thinking what we have is ours, not God’s.

Here’s the good news: God gives us a chance, just as the owner gave this man a chance, to settle the issues and get the accounts and the books right. There is a line in a poem that goes: “Though I cannot go back and make a brand new start, my friend, anyone can start from now and make a brand new end.”

2. Trust must be earned. (vv. 10-12)

The second lesson our Lord teaches is that trust must be earned. He teaches us that trust can never be granted without us earning it. Now, look at verses 10-11. 10″One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?”

He’s basically saying, “If you can’t be faithful in the few things, why am I going to trust you with more things?” It goes back to the illustration I gave you at the beginning of the message. If your teenager does not come home before their curfew this week, are you going to trust them with the car next week? Trust has to be earned. It’s never just granted. No parent should just say, “Here, I just totally trust you. Go out, and if you don’t come back on time and you disobey me, I’m sure there’s a reason.” No, no. Trust has to be earned. And the more we earn trust, the more trust is given. The more we show that we don’t deserve trust, the more trust is pulled away.

Now, here’s a very simple question. How much can God trust you with? How many abilities and talents and opportunities can He give use because we’re trustworthy? Can God trust you? Does God have opportunities to give you, but withholds because you’re not using the opportunity you have right now?

I know pastors who run into people who say, “Well, you know, Pastor, if I ever get a million dollars, I’m going to give it all to the church.” No, they won’t. Most of the people who say that don’t even tithe. If you can’t give 10 percent to God now, you’re probably not going to give 100 percent next year. You see, the whole issue is: Am I trustworthy with what I have right now? I wonder how many blessings we miss because we’re sitting in our chair, our row waiting for some time, some “pie in the sky” time, somewhere under the rainbow for that opportunity to hit us. Here’s the big question: Am I trustworthy now?

Here is another parable for you. It is the parable of the three little turtles. Three turtles were going out one summer afternoon for a country picnic. One carried a basket with the food and the second, a jug with turtleaide; and the third, nothing. Just then they felt the first splat of rain drops on the their shells. “We can’t have a picnic without an umbrella,” said the first. “Who will go back for one?” They made the choice, and the empty-handed turtle was chosen.
“I won’t go,” he said. “As soon as I leave, you’ll eat all the food and drink all the turtleaide, and cut me out of everything. Right? ” “Wrong,” they said, “we’ll wait for you, no matter how long.” “No matter how long?” asked the third turtle. “No matter how long,” the other two replied. So he turned back, and they sat waiting an hour, two hours, four, a day, two days, a week. Two weeks went by when one turtle turned to the other and said, “Maybe we should go ahead and have the picnic.” Just then the voice of the third turtle came out from the bushes behind them, “If you do, I won’t go,” he said. I wonder how many times God has entrusted something to us, and instead of going we wait behind the bushes.

3. Be wholly devoted to God. (v. 13)
The third lesson that Jesus gives in this parable is we are to be wholly devoted to God. Jesus says, in that last verse, 13No 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.” Who are you and I slaves to today?

So what I need you to realize here today is that we are accountable to God. He has given us so much: His love, His mercy, His salvation won for us by Jesus on the cross and by rising again. He has given us our lives, our talents, our time and our opportunities. And He expects us to take these things and use them with integrity, and to do His work and spread the Kingdom. If we have been doing a lousy job, it is not too late to change. No matter how well we have been doing, the more we do God’s will and God’s work, the more He will trust us. We are to be completely devoted to God, and to no one and nothing else. So who are we slaves to today? Can God trust us? Something for each of us to think about between now and next Sunday.