Sep14WedSeptember 14, 2016
In a few weeks, my wife has the opportunity to speak at the national wedding business convention. The coordinators have asked her to speak on the percentage ratios which lead to sustainability and profitability in the bridal industry. In her words, she’s going to be speaking on all the boring facts of doing business – like building a budget, sticking to your budget and saying ‘no’ to impulse decisions. However, it’s those very things that make or break a business. Indeed, those are the very same things which make or break families when it comes to financial stewardship. The ‘boring’ details of tracking money and making informed decisions are critical for faithful, sustainable living.
I mention this because this past Sunday, we studied Jesus’ parable of the dishonest manager. This parable brings us to the ‘boring’ subject of budgeting. The parable in itself is very odd. Jesus proposes that we should learn from the shrewdness of an unfaithful money manager who is at the tail end of his career. Once aware that his job is ending and that the Master is paying attention, the manager begins to diligently settle any outstanding debts. He suddenly begins to care about every last penny and his Master commends him for it. Then Jesus makes his point, “The sons of this world are more shrew in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails, they may receive you into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:8b-9, ESV).
There are two lessons for us in this. The first being that it’s important for disciples of Jesus to learn shrewd (or wise) money management skills from anywhere – including the secular business world. If the wisdom is sound, it’s really from God anyway even if a business executive thinks that it’s his (or her) idea. But the point is that no one simply stumbles into faithful money management practices. Truly wise money management requires people to do the boring work of building a budget and the diligent work of sticking to it. Occasionally, people outside of the church understand the wisdom of this better than Jesus’ own disciples. Without carefully learning from my wife and other money management tools, I would be one who would quickly give everything – at the expense of providing for our children’s basic needs. But Jesus doesn’t call his disciples to poverty. He calls us to be faithful what he’s entrusted to them (which is the point of Luke 16:10-12).
However, the second lesson from Jesus’ parable is really more important. The reason why we are to be diligent with our finances is so that we can focus our real attention on relationships. Relationships can last into eternity if they are built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. These are the true riches. It's so challenging to care about disciple-making when we are anxious about finances.
If you have discovered the wisdom of being shrewd with money management, I encourage you to continue to set a godly example by investing your financial freedom into the lives of people. Our culture and our church needs to see your example!
If you struggle with money management, I encourage you to do the ‘boring’ work of creating and sustaining a manageable budget ASAP. To being this process, join in with the Rock Solid Finances class at 7:30pm on Wednesdays in September at FMC, listen to this past week’s sermon, or visit crown.org. May we all be found faithful with the very little that God has entrusted to us – even if it requires us to do the boring work first.