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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - The Shrewd Businessman

Michael Youssef - The Shrewd Businessman

Michael Youssef - The Shrewd Businessman
Michael Youssef - The Shrewd Businessman
TOPICS: Enduring Wisdom, Parables of Jesus

In a day when so many preachers are saying that we need to ditch the Old Testent, we need to give up the Old Testament, I'm gonna show you in this new book how to read the Bible, that the two, Old and New Testament, are interrelated. You cannot have one without the other. One does not make sense without the other. And so, I hope you're gonna read that book and you're gonna apply it to your life. It will strengthen your faith and your trust in the Word of God.

Some of you might not be familiar with this parable; and those of you who might not be familiar with this parable or didn't really focus on it before, do not feel too bad. When I explain to you the cultural context of this parable, it will bless your socks. My first exposure to this parable was when I was a student pastor. This dear lady, she had the Bible opened to Luke 16. She shoved it under my face and she said, "What is this doing in the Bible"? Well, I must admit I was taken back. Again, remember I was 24, freshman in seminary. And I said, "I'll get back to you". But what I did, when I went back and studied this parable, it turned out for me to be one of the greatest blessings in my ministry to this day 100 years later.

First of all, of all the parables that our Lord Jesus Christ tells us, of all the parables, this is the most straightforward one. No allegory. No illustration. No explanation. It was just straightforward. It's straightforward, and yet it's very culturally 1st century Judaism. It is truly a human parable. Look at verse 9 with me. I'm going to come back to verse 9 at the end, but I want you to look at it now. Underline it. Mark it. Put note next to it. "I tell you," said Jesus, "use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, and so when it's gone..." That is when you get to heaven 'cause you won't be able to spend your money in heaven, when it's gone, you will be welcomed into their eternal homes. That's a key verse, and I'm going to come back to it again. It can come across as crass. You know what I mean? Crass. It comes across as crooked dealings, and it is. It is.

The Bible does not deny reality. It doesn't gloss over things. No. Let me retell it to you in the vernacular. A company owner, CEO, decided to hire a manager as a chief operating officer to run the day-to-day operation of the company. And so, the CEO noticed that the COO basically was goofing off, as we would say. He was goofing off. He was not turning up on time, late for meetings. He didn't keep the books in good order. He was playing golf all the time, if they played golf back then. He was padding the expense account, and he was kind of falsifying his monthly reports, and finally the CEO's patience ran out with this guy. It ran out with this shenanigan, and so he decides to confront this guy, the manager, and the confrontation did not go very well. And so, the owner said to the manager, "Buddy, I'm going to have to terminate your employment. You have 2 weeks to turn over the books, and turn over the accounts, turn over everything".

And so, the manager thinks for a minute and he says, "Well..." Being a shrewd guy, quick on his feet, and he says, "Well, if I look at my 401(k)," as for those of you watching around the world it's retirement account, "it's not going to last me for even a year, let alone the rest of my life. There is no way that's going to be enough". I mean, he was living in luxury, going to get manicures and hair stylists and leased Mercedes and health club dues. You know, he just kind of living it up. He's not ready for manual labor. So what does he do? He basically visualized himself as going through life of homelessness. He was going through life of poverty and he didn't let, like it at all, neither would I.

So, he devised an ingenious, if not a crooked, plan. He still has the accounts, he still has the books in his possessions, and he got all the company ins and outs of the finances. He knew who owes what and how much, and so he calls each one of the debtors together. He brings them in one by one. He didn't bring them together in a big meeting because that would be a problem, but he brings them on one by one and he gives each of them a substantial discount courtesy of his boss' bank account. Now, you have to understand back then usury, you know what I'm talking about, usury? Do you know what I'm talking about, usury? It's not like interest, interest that we get. Interest, money in the bank and stuff like that. Usury. That is why it's really outlawed in the Bible. God said don't do it. Don't do it. But sometimes these usuries and people with money give to the poor who needed it, they can charge upward of 100%.

So imagine a guy hurting and needing borrow $100. These sharks basically will lend it to him but as long as he paid it back as $200. That's just put that in the back of your head as a little bit of a freebie on the house. It's a cultural thing. That's why the Bible outlawed it in the Old Testament very clearly. And so, what this man literally was doing, he was taking off the usury and charging only the principal. That's what he was doing. Now do you understand it in context? And so, he said to the first one, "How much do you owe"? "A hundred thousand". "Well, sit down, make it 50. How much do you owe"? "Well, 200,000". "Well, sit down, make it 100". The third and the fourth and went on and on and on. Everyone, as I said, was given a wonderful, generous discount courtesy of his boss. All along he was thinking, "Man, this generous gesture is going to endear me to them. This make these people owe me big time when I'm out of here. I mean, these people are indebted to me for life. Man, when I get out of work, I'm going to sit back and collect IOUs. I'm going to sit on the beach and clip coupons".

Meanwhile, the company owner, the CEO gets wind of this new shenanigan that was going on the part of this outgoing manager and he becomes furious. I mean, you can understand it, can't you? And now he's more determined than ever to get rid of the rascal right away, but at the same time he kind of, this owner becomes a little bit philosophical. Even though he was furious, but he gets a little bit philosophical, and he begins to think of the ingenuity, if not the crookedness, of this deal, of this manager's advice. And so, he actually deep down, secretly part of him admires the rascal for being forward-looking, for having foresight, for having vision for his future.

Now, some of you are saying, "Okay. Michael, Michael, Michael, I understand that. I understand this is what happened 1st century Palestine. I understand that, but why on God's earth is the Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of glory would tell this unlikely parable in the Scripture? Why"? You know what? That is a great question. I'm so glad you asked it because I want to answer it. It's a great, great, great, great question, and here's what Jesus is saying to every genuine disciple. Now, this is not to somebody who doesn't know Jesus, this is for disciples of Jesus. If you have never committed your life to Jesus Christ, he wants your first. He wants your soul. He wants your heart first before he wants what's yours. So he's speaking to every serious-minded Christian, every serious-minded disciple of Jesus and he is saying, "Look at that crook. Look at the crooked means by which he planned his future. Look at how meticulously but crookedly he planned his earthly future. Look at his commitment to taking care of number one and his earthly well-being".

Now, think about how much more thoughtful, caring, intentional should you be about your eternal future. That's what our Lord is saying. Think about how much more diligent and deliberately and highly organized your plans should be for where you're going to be spending eternity, not just few years but forever and ever and ever. Some people have spend more time organizing their annual vacation than thinking about heaven. I know that a lot of people spend a lot of time organizing their retirement, and there's nothing wrong with that. But people spend time pouring into their retirement and hours and hours and hours and nothing and no time, no plans, no decisions about where they're going to be spending thousands and thousands and thousands of years. And Jesus is saying if this crooked man who had enough sense to plan his earthly future, how much more should be the true children of the living God plan to where they're going to be spending their forever? Except God's children will be making their plans by righteous means. They'll be making their plans not through crooked means.

Here's what Jesus is saying. Learn even from this crook who had done crooked things for his own needs and for only a few years of life. Learn from this crooked man who cannot see past his nose. Learn to be shrewd in the use of your time, in the use of your talent, and in the use of your treasure for your eternal future. Learn and be wise in investing all that God has placed in your hands for your eternal future. Learn to invest all the resources that he has placed in your hands where you will be living forever and ever and ever and ever. Learn to invest in ministries that will bring people to Christ. Learn to invest in things where it's going to be waiting for you on the other side of heaven, when people are going to come to you and tell you how grateful they are for you and in your investment, for that reason they are in heaven.

Learn to invest in gospel ministries that will bring salvation to people whose gratitude to you for that investment will go on and on and on and on for all of eternity. I know and you know there's just too much, a lot of talk about the loss of value of the dollar. Right? Some people are actually predicting that in the next few years the dollar will be worth half of what it is now. Now, there are people who are investing in gold and silver and hedging so the, you know, value of the dollar, I understand. That's fine. That's wonderful. But I can tell you on the authority of Jesus the Christ that your dollar that you send unto heaven will never, never, never, never lose its value.

Think about this. Think about this. When you go to heaven, all of your money, all of your possessions, all of your stocks and bonds and your real estate or whatever it is you're invested will lose its value 100%. You can't use it up there. But what you invest now in the work of Jesus here on this earth will be multiplied exponentially in value in heaven. I've heard it. You've heard it, too. "You can't take it with you". Actually, that's wrong. Did you know that? It's wrong. According to Jesus right here in Luke 16, that's wrong. He is saying you can send it on ahead. You can send it on ahead by investing in ministries and in the kingdom of God. Okay. After this brief introduction, I'm going to come to the message.

Three things that the Lord Jesus Christ is saying to us, saying to every disciple of Jesus Christ. He is saying be wise, be wise. First of all, be wise in facing reality; secondly, be wise in projecting the future, eternal future; and thirdly, be wise in acting upon your conviction. Okay, let's look at these very, very quickly, very quickly. Be wise in facing reality. Jesus is saying to his disciples, if this crook was realistic enough about the reality of his future, if this crook was realistic about his world, how much more should you who know and love the Lord Jesus, how much more should those who actually know that they are going to be spending eternity in heaven with Jesus, and if you know for certain that you are going to spend eternity in heaven with Jesus, then the question should be, "What plans am I making with that reality in mind"?

Do your life plans reflect that reality? Are you writing your personal budget with that reality in mind? Are you managing your earthly resources with that reality in mind? Be wise in facing reality. Secondly, he said be wise in projecting the future. That's the eternal future. There is everything right about projecting your eternal future. Everything right about it. Question, are you going to have friends in heaven? No, no, no. I'm not talking about the church members, your friends in the church, your friends in the Bible study. I'm not talking about your loved ones. I am talking about people whom you have never seen this side of heaven. Would they be your friends in heaven? I'm talking about those names that you have never heard this side of heaven 'cause that's what Jesus is saying, not me. But because of your investment they'll be waiting for you in heaven, say, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you".

Let me read to you a resignation announcement from the Kenyan Atheist Society. "This evening, regretfully the secretary of the Atheists in Kenya Society, Mr. Seth Mahiga, informed me that he has made a decision to resign from his position as secretary of the society. Seth's reason for resigning is that he has found Jesus Christ and he is no longer", amen. Give God glory. "And he is no longer interested in promoting atheism in Kenya. We wish Seth all the best in his newly-found relationship with Jesus Christ. We thank him for serving society with dedication over the last year and a half".

You and I are going to meet hundreds of thousands of people like Seth in heaven. And so, be wise in visualizing your eternal future. This crook visualized poverty, unemployment, and homelessness, and he did something about it, crooked as it was. We have the chance to do something that is righteous, holy, and glorious. Be wise in facing reality. Be wise in visualizing your eternal future. Thirdly, be wise in acting upon your conviction. You see, there are a lot of well-meaning people around. Oh, their intentions are so good. They do nothing about it. And I must confess to you, I hang my head in shame when genuine believing Christians who have known and experienced salvation sleep in on Sunday morning or complain because they can't get this or they can't do this, and forever this evil force is working day and night.

The redeemed of God are indifferent. I often wondered if he's telling this parable in the 21st century, I wonder what he would say, but I personally believe it would have said, "Look at the commitment to their causes. Look at the forces that are working day and night. Look at their willingness to invest of themselves and learn from them. Look at them. And you can do no less for the kingdom of God than they are doing for their evil causes. Don't do less for my church. Don't do less for my saving of souls and saving of the lost. Don't do less for the great commission. Don't do less for your eternal home, for your eternal home".

I told you I'm going to come back to verse 9, and I'm going to conclude with it. Jesus basically is saying, "Now, I tell you make friends for yourselves in heaven". That's who he's talking about. He's not talking about going out and buying people. That's not what he's talking about. He said make friends in heaven by means of unrighteous, that was money, basically whatever resources you have. So that when you don't have them anymore, and in heaven you won't, they'll welcome you and invite you in their dwelling places.

Jesus is saying, beloved, listen to me. Listen to me. The time to give is now. The time to give of yourself is now. The time to invest yourself is now. The time to serve is now. The time to put yourself out for Jesus is now for in eternity this is the only place where you will get compounded interest. I hope everyone at the sound of my voice will ask themselves the question, "What am I giving to? What am I giving to that my non-Christian friends cannot give to"? Your non-Christian friends do not and cannot give to the kingdom of God. They cannot give to the kingdom of Jesus, but you can.

Beloved, listen to me. Jesus did not praise a crook. Let me repeat this. Jesus did not praise a crook but rather he is using earthly example to teach us an eternal principle. Because only you, you, you, you, you, you, you can hear from the lips of Jesus those wonderful words that I can't wait to hear, whether it would be in an hour or in 10 years. Well done. Say it with me. Well done. Say it again. Well done. You notice he didn't say much done 'cause I don't want the students sitting here and say, "I don't have anything to give". He didn't say much, he said well. Wherever you are, whether you're 16 years old, or 14 years old, or 100 years old, it's not the much. It's the well. Well done. Say it again: good and faithful servant.
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