Robert Jeffress - Why Money Matters?
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress. Welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Any wise investor expects a return on the money he or she invests. And in the same way, God has high demands for a return on his investment in us. God has given each of us valuable resources to build his kingdom. Resources like time, money, and gifts. And today I'm going to challenge you to take an honest look at how you're handling what God has provided. My message is titled, "Why Money Matters", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Someone has said that life is like a dollar bill. You can spend it any way you want, but you can only spend it once. It is true our life is very brief here on earth. But here's the paradox. How we spend our fleeting moments of life on this earth determines how we spend eternity. And that is a truth that Jesus continually drove home to his followers. And it's a truth we see explained by the Lord one last time before he reaches the cross. Today the Lord is going to tell a parable that instructs all of us how we ought to live our lives in that period of time between Christ's resurrection and his certain return to earth.
If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to Luke 19. In our study of Luke, we saw last time about Jesus' encounter with that wee little man named Zacchaeus. Remember Zacchaeus? He was a tax collector. He was an outcast. But he was the kind of person Jesus came to save. Jesus said in verse 10 of Luke 19, for the son of man came to seek and to save those who are lost. Zacchaeus was lost. But after he found the Lord and sought God's forgiveness, remember what Zacchaeus did? He said, I'm going to give half of everything I have to the poor. And not only that, those I've cheated I'll pay back four times whatever I've cheated. And Jesus said, today salvation is come to your house.
It's not that Zacchaeus purchased his salvation by giving away his money. But his willingness to be freed from greed proved he had received salvation. And this is a theme you see over and over again in Jesus' teaching. Jesus often talked about money. Have you noticed that in our study of Luke how many times Jesus talks about money? In fact, when you add it up, Jesus spoke more about money than he did about heaven or hell. Why is that? Two reasons. First of all, Jesus taught us that how we handle our money is a good barometer of our priorities in life. You can talk a good game about your devotion to Christ. But where you put your money shows what your real priorities are. Just examine your checkbook register, or your receipts from your debit card, or your credit card statements. Where you spend your money shows better than anything else where your real priorities in life are.
Not only is money a barometer of our priorities, but secondly Jesus said, how we handle our money is a test of our faithfulness to God. Yes, money's a little thing to God. It's a very little thing to God. But how we handle that money is a real test of our faithfulness. And you see both points emphasized once again in the passage we've come to today, a story that Jesus told his followers. Now let's look at the setting for this parable first of all in verse 11. And while they, that is the disciples, were listening to these things. What things?
Well just what had happened in verses 1-10. Everything he had said to Zacchaeus and those who were around him. While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they supposed that the Kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. We're in the final week of Christ's life here on earth. They were coming from Jericho on the way to Jerusalem just a few hours away from the city for this final week before the crucifixion. And yet after three years of being with Jesus, the disciples still didn't get it. They thought they were going to Jerusalem for the coronation of the king, king Jesus. They didn't realize they were going for the crucifixion of Jesus. They thought the Kingdom of God was going to appear then, immediately. He was going to the city of David. He would sit on the throne of David. He would rule over the world and put the Romans in their place. They still didn't get it.
Now the fact is Jesus would come again as king. But before he could come as king, he had to be offered as the suffering servant for the sins of the world. They still didn't get that. And so he told them this parable. The parable begins with a nobleman's journey. Look at this, verse 12. Jesus said therefore, a certain nobleman, or a king, went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself and then return. Now Jesus used parables to illustrate a spiritual truth with an earthly experience. Some people define a parable as a earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus would use the familiar to explain the unfamiliar.
Now to us, we read this, a king goes to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself. What's that all about? But Jesus' followers understood exactly what was going on here. Because they had witnessed this in their own history. A king had to give authority to reign from whoever the emperor happened to be in Rome. And remember Herod the great was the king of Israel. He had died about 35 years before this in 4 BC. Herod the great was the king over Israel. But he received the right to be king from the emperor in Rome. And so when Herod the great died in 4 BC, his kingdom of Israel was split among his three sons. And each of those sons, even though they inherited the kingdom from their father, they had to go to Rome to get the emperor, Augustus, to give them permission to rule over the kingdom.
Now one of Herod's three sons was named Archelaus. Archelaus became king over Judea, Samaria, and Idumea. But he wasn't like his dad, Herod the great. Herod the great actually was pretty good to the Jewish people. He wanted to keep peace with them. And so he tried to curry favor any way he could. One of the things he did was to pay for a massive expansion of their temple. We talk about Herod's temple. It was vastly expanded under king Herod the great. So the Jews liked Herod the great for the most part.
However, Archelaus said, I'm not going to baby these Jews like my father did. I'm going to show 'em who's boss. And so in one instant he killed 3.000 Jewish men at a single time. And so these Jews hated Archelaus. And so when Archelaus went to Rome to assume the right to rule over Judea, 50 Jewish men also traveled to Rome to protest to Caesar about Archelaus. They said, we do not want to have this man rule over us.
Now that's the background here of a certain king who goes to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself. But this distant king that Jesus is talking about in the parable isn't Archelaus. He's talking about himself. Just as a human king would go to a distant land to receive the right to rule, so Jesus, after he had finished his mission on earth of dying for the sins of the world, after his death and resurrection, what did he do? He ascended into heaven. He went to that distant country. His mission was accomplished. And Ephesians 1:22 says because of that, he received from God the Father the right to rule over all creation. And one day, king Jesus is coming back to earth to rule just as he promised he would. And that's what this is a picture of. Here is a king who goes to a distant country to receive his right to rule.
Now look at verse 13. Notice what this king did before he left on his journey. And he called 10 of his slaves and gave them 10 minas and said to them, do business with this until I come back. A mina was a measure of currency. A mina represented 100 Denari. A Denarius was one day's wage. Today it would be about $0.16. A hundred Denari therefore would be about three months worth of wages of a common wage. So this king calls together 10 of his slaves and says I'm going to give you a fourth of your yearly salary. I'm going to give you that much money. Now why did he do that? Well it wasn't an appreciation gift before he left town. He's very clear about what the assignment was. He said, I'm going to give each of you a mina. Do business with this until I come back.
This word do business, pragmateuomai. Pragmateuomai, what does that sound like to you? Pragmatic, do something useful with this money. Do business for me. Make my money grow while I'm gone. Now the stated reason that he gave each of these slaves a mina was he wanted to increase his wealth. The unstated reason that we'll see in a moment was this would be a test for his slaves to see how much the king could entrust to them in the future. In reality, a mina wasn't that much money to the king. It was a small sliver of his entire net worth. But how these slaves used that mina would be a test.
Now again, there's an obvious parallel. Jesus, our king, is in a distant land, heaven. He's coming back again. But in the meantime, while we're on earth, he has entrusted to each of us a certain amount of money as well as gifts, and time and opportunities. How we use the treasure God has given to us, on loan, is a test of our faithfulness to him. A test which will have eternal ramifications. That's what this parable is about. Now what is interesting is, there are some people, as we'll see in just a moment, who absolutely are opposed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at verse 14. But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, we do not want this man to reign over us. Before the nobleman left on his journey to that distant country to receive the right to rule, a group of citizens said, we hate you. And we're going to go to that distant land and protest your right to rule.
That's what happened with Archelaus. Some of those citizens went to Rome to protest. These are pictures of those who were adamantly and clearly opposed to Jesus Christ. Have you run into those kind of people in your life right now? People who hate the Jesus of the Bible. People who hate the standards found in God's word. They are adamantly opposed to him. But there are other people who outwardly don't oppose Christ. In fact sometimes they appear to be followers of Christ. But they are just as much adversaries of Jesus as those who are openly opposed to him because they do not do what the Lord commanded them to do. We'll see that in a moment.
Now look at the nobleman's return, verse 15. And it came about that when the nobleman returned, after receiving the kingdom. The nobleman went away but he returned. Now some of you may be thinking, wait a minute pastor, haven't I heard this story before? This sure sounds like somethin' else I've read in the Bible before. Well there is a similar parable in Matthew 25:14-30. We call it the parable of the talents. And it too is about a king who went on a journey. And before he left, he called his servants together and he gave them a certain amount of talents.
Now a talent was another measure of money. A talent was 80 pounds of gold. And remember he gave one five talents. He gave another one two talents, and he gave another one one talent. That was a different story told to a different audience. But there are some parallels between the stories but there's some differences. In that story, the king gave differing amounts of money. In this one, he gave the same amount of money. You know, both things are true. In some ways, God has given us all different amounts of money, and talent, and opportunities to serve him. But in another sense he's given us all the same. For example, he's given every one of us the same amount of hours in the day. Do you realize that? Doesn't matter whether you're a factory worker or the president of the United States. You get 24 hours a day. And what you do with those hours is a measure of your faithfulness to God.
Well in this particular parable that Jesus is telling us, everybody got the same amount. But in the Matthew version, it says that after a long time the master returned. That is he had been away longer than his servants expected him to be away. And we see that today. There are a lot of people who think the Lord is not coming back again because he's gone a long time. Frankly, he's been gone longer than most people thought he would be. The apostle Paul thought Jesus would return in his day. And just about every generation has thought this would be the generation the Lord returns. But you know in 2 Peter 3, the apostle said, remember this. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness. For with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.
The only reason the Lord has delayed his coming is to give people an opportunity to repent. But he is coming back again. And that's what we see right here in Luke 19:15. And it came about that when he returned, what did he do? Well he wanted an accounting of those who professed to serve him. Now it came about that when he returned after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves to whom he had given money be called to him in order that he might know what business they had done. There is a time coming ladies and gentlemen when you and I are going to be evaluated by Jesus Christ. We call it he Judgment Seat of Christ, the bema. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, for we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ that each one of us may be rewarded for what we have done in the body, whether it be good or worthless. This is the evaluation.
Notice the first servant's evaluation, verse 16. And the first appeared saying, master, your mina has made 10 minas more. And the king said to him, well done good slave. Because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over 10 cities. The New Testament scholar William Barclay notices that there are three components of this evaluation. First of all, there's a commendation. The king says to him well done because you have earned 1.000% return. One mina you turned into 10 minas. That was a commendation. And then the reasoning. You have been faithful in a very little thing. That is, he's saying, you did what I told you to do. You did something practical. You did business with my money.
Remember that comment from Hudson Taylor, the missions leader who said, a little thing is a little thing. But faithfulness in a little thing is a big thing. This king was saying, you know what, that one mina, it wasn't that significant. But you took a little thing, one mina, and you did something great with it. And that leads to thirdly a promotion. Because you have been faithful in this little thing, this one mina, I will give you authority over 10 cities. Faithfulness in the little thing, a mina, resulted in a big assignment, ruling over 10 cities.
You know, one of the truths we saw in our series on heaven, a place called heaven, is the fact that all of us are going to be standing and evaluated before the Judgment Seat of Christ and we'll be rewarded for our faithfulness or lack of faithfulness. Heaven will not be the same for every Christian. 2 Timothy 2:12 says if we endure with him, we shall also reign with him. Some people will be given a city to rule over. Some will be given a nation to rule over. Some will be rulers over the earth. Some will be rulers over galaxies and perhaps other earths. But we will be rewarded by our faithfulness. And you know if the idea of being an authority over anything for eternity makes you want to go to hell rather than heaven, don't panic here, okay. Because maybe your reward is going to take another form. But make no mistake about it, faithfulness results in rewards. That's what Jesus is teaching us here. This first servant, a 10 to 1 return, pretty impressive.
Now look at the second servant. And the second came saying, your mina, master, has made five minas. Now he earned half the return. It was still a 500% return. Pretty good wouldn't you say? But we don't know why he earned less. Perhaps he didn't make a wise investment. Perhaps there were external circumstances. Nevertheless, he was rewarded as well proportionately. Verse 19, and you are to be over five cities. Again, Jesus rewards proportionately according to what we do for him. But then the bulk of the attention is focused on the third servant. Look at first of all his inaction. And another came saying, master, behold your mina which I kept put away in a handkerchief.
Now that word handkerchief refers to a bandana that was worn around a person's head. It was the least safe way to take care of money in Jesus' day. Money that was just placed in a handkerchief could easily be discovered and stolen. If you wanted to hide money, it made a lot more sense to take a little effort, make a little effort and dig a hole in the ground and bury the money. Or put it in the bank and earn a little bit of interest.
You see there, banking is a part of God's plan. To earn a little bit of interest. That's not against scripture. The Bible commends banking. He said, if you want to earn just a little bit of interest, put it in the bank. But that's not what he did. He did something very risky with his master's money. He just hid it. Why would he do such a thing? Verse 21, his rationale. For I was afraid of you because you are an exacting man. You take up what you didn't lay down and you reap what you didn't sow. I mean, this is an amazing and an illogical response. It's amazing that he would actually accuse his master of being a thief. He said, well the reason I did what I did was, you're an unfair guy and you're a thief. You take what is not yours.
Why would you say that to your boss? Why would you say that to a king who could take your life? And yet, don't you find people making the same response to God today? Have you noticed how some people when they feel confronted about the sin in their own life, their conscience starts to speak to them. What do they do? They lash out against God. They accuse him of being unloving, or unfair, or unjust. Have you heard some of the things people are willing to say about God, the blasphemy they engage in? That's what happens when you feel confronted about your own sin. So this guy lashes out against the king's character. It's not only an amazing response, it's an illogical response.