eternity; money; stewardship
Surely not. That’s not possible. And yet Jesus unashamedly motivated His hearers, motivates us to act in this life, with the prospect of future gain, future reward into eternity when He said;
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:19-21 in NLT)
Jesus doesn’t tell people what we might think He’d say. Jesus doesn’t discourage storing up for oneself at all. What Jesus does do is changes the address! Jesus changes the destination of our saving up, from this life to the next. Jesus is motivating us by the prospect of future gain, future reward for us as a result of how we chose to live in this life.
“Scripture simply does not teach what most of us seem to assume – that heaven will transform each of us into equal beings with equal possessions and equal responsibilities and equal capacities. It does not say that our previous lives will be of no eternal significance. It says exactly the opposite.” Randy Alcorn
But that’s not a “pure” motivation I hear you say; ‘because then I am only doing this thing because of what I will gain in the end!’ Admittedly, there are many motivations for godliness for living sacrificially serving others with all that God entrusts to us. The greatest of which is surely the spontaneous response of love we have towards God that flows out of a heart that has seen the wonder, depth and majesty of God’s incredible love, grace and mercy.
But let’s not throw out what Jesus proposes as a motivation for how we should live in this life. Let’s not try to be more holy than Jesus! Or than Paul, or Moses for that matter.
Jesus is recorded mentioning rewards 15 times in the gospel’s as a motivation for living life now on this earth! (Matthew 5:12; 5:46; 6:1; 6:2; 6:4; 6:5; 6:6; 6:16; 6:18; 10:41; 10:42; 16:27; Mark 9:41; Luke 6:23; 6:35)
And Moses’ clearly was clearly motivated by reward:
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (Hebrews 11:24-26)
Paul’s was clearly motivated by the prospect of a reward in heaven…
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
If Jesus encouraged you to and godly men like Moses and Paul were motivated by rewards do you not think that you should be too?
Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-21 mean nothing if they are not meant to motivate us by causing us to consider the eternal reality of life after death and causing us to consider how this life impacts that life forever. Jesus was urging His hearers to consider how their use of their money, time, relationships, possessions so as to have an eternal impact by opening their eyes to the possibility of rewards in heaven.
I live my life as a love response to God, who loved me first, I live my life to love and serve God’s people knowing that as I do God feels my love for Him (Hebrews 6:10), but I also live my life here on earth to hear the words “Well done” from my Father at the end of this age for the way I lived, for the choices I made and according to Scripture what awaits me after those two words are eternal rewards in heaven with Him.
What a motivation for godliness, for serving without grumbling, for living my life and your life for Him who died for us and who is coming back for us!
By Gareth Bowley
This seemingly bewildering parable addresses questions concerning eternity, money & possessions.
Although this parable is perplexing at times, it helps to remember that parables are truths wrapped in story form. There is normally a single truth or big idea that’s being communicated…
Just as in the secular parable about the boy crying “wolf”, the detail (where he was, what he was wearing….) is not essential, the big idea is. So to this is helpful in understanding parables…
So what is the big idea?
I think there are two in this story:
1) We are managers/stewards and not owners.
2) This life is a test that impacts eternity
We are stewards not owners
This changes everything! “Our money” is not our money after all, and so we are not free to use money as we choose but rather need to consider the wishes of God who owns all things including the money held in our trust for Him.
This life is a test that affects eternity
We are managers/stewards of God’s resources (time, money, skills….) and we should use those resources wisely while we still can, to effect eternity.
The manager in this parable knows that his days as manager are about to end, and so he does what he can while he still can to effect his future and Jesus calls this shrewd or wise.
He knows that he is about to loose his job, loose control of the wealth of the owner, but he still has this moment in the present while still manager that can affect his future.
This is what he is commended for, having a future perspective that changed his life now in the present, changed his actions now.
In the same way, one thing is certain for all of us, at an hour unknown we will be ‘dismissed’ from his present realm into eternity.
Just like the manager who had limited time before his dismissal, we too can only effect eternity in the present and so we are wise to use what God has entrusted to us now in such a way that impacts our eternity positively.
“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. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No 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.”
This life is a test in that our faithfulness as stewards of God’s resources now will determine what God entrusts to us eternally.
The thing with this test is we don’t know when the trumpet will sound and all pens will have to be put down… In that moment nothing else will be able to be done, how we lived will then determine eternal reward (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Matthew Henry said; ‘live everyday as if it were your last day’. There’s no time like the present to live as a good, wise manager of God’s resources.